State-owned jute mill workers and employees began a 72-hour strike and four-hour blockade of roads and railways for three days across the country Tuesday morning for nine-point demands, pay hike and payment of due wages.
The road blockade caused sufferings to commuters and Higher Secondary Certificate examinees at places in the morning.
The demands include adequate allocation for jute sector, payment of due provident fund and gratuity to retired workers and insurance benefit to the families of deceased workers, implementation of the recommendations of the National Wage and Productivity Commission 2015, appointment of workers, regularisation of temporary workers, reappointment of sacked workers and the balancing, modernisation, rehabilitation and expansion of the jute mills for better productivity.
Thousands of workers of 26 state owned jute mills as well as their families rallied at their respective jute mill gates and marched towards nearby roads and railways and blocked those at places, including Demra in Dhaka, Chattogram, Khulna, Rajshahi and Jashore.
Reports received from districts said that passengers, including the Higher Secondary Certificate examinees, had to suffer a lot. The protesting workers, however, allowed the examinees to go using their vehicles after checking their admit cards.
Reports received from the districts said that the commuters, including the Higher Secondary Certificate examinees, had to face obstacles from the protesters. They, however, allowed the examinees to go using their vehicles after checking their admit cards.
Production remained suspended in the state-owned jute mills.
The workers resumed their protests from March 31 as their demands were not met by the government despite assurance, labour leaders said.
In Dhaka, Latif Bawani Jute Mills and Karim Jute Mills workers blockaded Dhaka-Sylhet Highway near Demra Staff Quarter under Demra police station between 8:00am and 12:30pm, causing huge traffic congestion.
Demra police station officer-in-charge Siddiqur Rahman said that the workers started gathering in the area at about 7:00am and blockaded the road and demonstrated peacefully chanting slogans for their demands.
New Age staff correspondent in Chattogram, quoting police and jute mill workers, reported that thousands of workers of Hafiz Jute Mills, Gul Ahmmed Jute Mills, RR Jute Mills, Gulfra Habib Jute Mills and MM Jute Mills blockaded the roads and railways in industrial areas of Sitakunda and Fouzdarhat.
Besides, Amin Jute Mill workers blockaded the Chittagong University shuttle train service at Sholashahar in the port city of Chattogram.
Traffic came to a halt and the port city’s rail communications with rest of Bangladesh remained suspended during the blockade.
A large number of vehicles were stuck on the highway and two trains — Meghna Express and Paharika Express — had been stranded.
A Dhaka division senior railway official told New Age that one or two trains were delayed by half an hour which they did not consider major disruption.
Only Chitra Express, towards Dhaka from Khulna, was delayed by about five hours due to the blockade, he said.
Chitra Express is scheduled to leave Khulna railway station at 8:40am.
Though the blockade was scheduled for four hours, the strikers withdrew it at most of the places by 9:30pm considering inconvenience for the HSC examinees, labour leaders said.
There are 10 jute mills in Chattogram region.
New Age correspondent in Khulna reported that, workers took position on Natun Rasta, Shiromani and Khan Jahan Ali Road from the morning, halting traffic for about four hours since 8:00am.
The protesters chanted slogans and burned tyres and woods on the roads. They announced that roads and railways would be blockaded from 8:00am to noon for three consecutive days.
There are nine state-owned jute mills in Khulna and Jashore region.
New Age correspondent in Jashore reported that rail communications between Khulna and the rest of the country were suspended for several hours as workers of different state-owned jute mills blockaded railway at places for about four hours until noon.
Workers of state owned jute mills in Jashore blockaded Jashore-Khulna Highway at Nawapara industrial town from 6:00am to noon.
Nawapara railway station manager Mohsin Reza told New Age that the authorities cancelled the journey of Benapole Commuter Express due to the blockade.
Besides Rajshshi-bound Kobadak Express, which usually that leaves Khulna at 6:30am, and Chilahati-bound Rocket Mail, which usually crosses Jashore at 10:10am, crossed Jashore about one hour after the withdrawal of the blockade.
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