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RMG workers’ unrest continues

122 factories shut, another worker dies
Md Samiur Rahman Sazzad with Raihanul Islam Akand from Gazipur
12 Nov 2023 21:49:47 | Update: 12 Nov 2023 22:25:38
RMG workers’ unrest continues
Wife (C) of Jalal Uddin, a garment worker, mourns as she waits outside the Dhaka Medical College Hospital morgue in Dhaka on November 12, 2023 — AFP Photo

Despite publication of a gazette on minimum salary for readymade garment (RMG) workers, they have continued staging demonstrations demanding Tk 23,000 as monthly minimum wage considering high inflation in the country.

Garment workers blocked roads from capital’s Mirpur-10 to Kafrul, Pallabi and Mirpur-13 and demonstrated there on Sunday. Besides, a factory owner filed a case against the workers who vandalised his factory in Gazipur.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan at a press conference on Sunday said 122 garment factories in Savar, Ashulia, Uttara and Gazipur areas have shut down due to ongoing violence.

“Every entrepreneur has constitutional right to protect his own industry and properties from outsiders. New appointments will be made when the situation improves,” he added.

He further said, “Ensure security to run industries smoothly. Politics and economics complement each other. Remittance earning from expatriates is experiencing a slowdown at the moment. In this situation, the garment industry, one of the main sectors of export earnings, deserves special attention.”

However, some 34 cases have been filed in Ashulia and Gazipur areas regarding the issue, trade union leaders claimed, saying that over one hundred workers are already in prison.

Savar Circle Additional SP of Police Shahidul Islam told the media that some 16 people and nearly 3,500 unnamed persons have been accused in the cases. Police have arrested five people so far in connection with the case.

On November 7, the government fixed Tk 12,500 as minimum salary for entry level RMG workers, raising it by 56.25 per cent from the existing one, though trade unions and workers rejected the proposal terming it insufficient, considering high inflation.

They continued to stage protests demanding Tk 23,000 as minimum salary, and many workers took to the streets clashing with police and vandalising factories.

Situation in Dhaka

Hundreds of garment workers blocked the capital's Mirpur-10 intersection as part of their protests against the decision taken by the wage board.

The majority of them were reported to be the employees of Vision, Saroj Garments, MBM and 11 other factories in Mirpur.

The situation remained peaceful in the presence of police with no unwanted incidents and according to BGMEA 1 factory remained closed for an indefinite period.

BGMEA also said that 80 factories in Ashulia, 38 factories in Konabari, 3 factories in Uttara also remained closed until further order.

Situation in Gazipur

Another worker, Md Jalal Uddin(40), who was injured in a clash between workers and police in Konabari (Jarun) area of Gazipur, died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), police outpost in-charge Md Bacchu Mia confirmed.

The worker died around 12:00am on Saturday while undergoing treatment ate ICU of DMCH.

Jalal Uddin, son of Chan Mia of Kendua upazila in Netrakona, was the supervisor of Islamia Garments.

Tusuka Group has filed a case in connection with the attack and vandalism of a garment factory in Gazipur. On Saturday, the case was filed with Konabari police station against 200 unknown people.

Abu Sayeed, admin of Tusuka Group, filed a case over assault, vandalism and looting in the factory, Konabari police station officer-in-charge (OC) KM Ashraf Uddin confirmed the matter on Sunday afternoon.

The OC said that a case has been filed with Konabari police station in connection with labor protests, arson in factories and vandalism of police vehicles. More than 4 thousand workers have been accused in that case.

Earlier, several cases were filed with the police station over vandalism and clashes with law enforcers. More than 10,000 people have been made accused in those cases.