The workers of Tuba Group cry in front of the factory in North Badda of Dhaka on Thursday after law enforces attack on them to break an 11-day hunger strike for unpaid salaries and bonuses. Photo: Star
Garment workers and leaders could not organise their pre-scheduled demonstration in Savar and Ashulia today as law enforcers did not let them.
A group of workers tried to stage demonstration in Ashulia at 5:00pm but police foiled the programme.
“Workers stopped demonstration after seeing police,” Officer-in-Charge of Ashulia Police Station SM Badrul Alam told The Daily Star.
But a number of worker leaders claimed that police beat up the workers.
Law enforces have beaten up the workers to stop demonstration, said Shahidul Islam Sabuj, finance secretary of Garment Workers Unity Forum.
A total of ten workers were injured in Savar and more ten in Ashulia, he said.
Tuba Group Shramik Sangram Committee, a temporary platform of labour rights organisations, called a strike in garment factories across the country for Saturday demanding salaries for three months and Eid bonuses.
“We have disbursed two of three months' outstanding salaries from the BGMEA headquarters Thursday,” said Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The arrears were for the months of May, June and July, including overtime bills and Eid bonuses.
“Workers will get the salaries for the month of July on Sunday from the BGMEA office,” Azim said.
He called upon workers not to go for strike for the interest of industry. Tuba Group's total employee count stood at 1,495 in May and 1,458 in June, according to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters' Association (BGMEA).
Tuba Group workers and labour leaders on Friday formed a human chain demanding salaries for the month of July including bonuses.
They also demanded cancellation of bail of Tuba Group's owner, Delwar Hossain.
They have condemned law enforces attack on workers to break an 11-day hunger strike for unpaid salaries and bonuses into the 12-storey factory building in North Badda since July 28, the day before Eid-ul-Fitr.
The owner should reopen the factories to ensure employment for the jobless workers, said Shahidul Islam Sabuj, finance secretary of Garment Workers Unity Forum at the human chain in front of the National Press Club in the capital.
The owner should allow trade unions at every factory to ensure workers’ rights, he said.
Coalition for Humanity organised a human chain in front of the Chittagong Press Club demanding government’s interference in realising the just demands of the garment workers.
A number of workers leaders claimed Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan is serving the interest of owners instead of workers.
Mominur Rahman, a member of Garment Workers Unity Forum said: “The minister is busy to serve the interest of BGMEA.”
The government always stands beside owners, he said.
Defending Thursday's crackdown on Tuba Group workers, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan today claimed that the government intervened as a faction of workers tried to refrain workers from receiving arrears.
"When the government had taken steps for providing wage for the agitating workers, a section of workers created obstacle so that general workers could not receive it, compelling the government to intervene the matter" he said.
The minister made the comment as the chief guest in a debate competition programme arranged by "Debate for Democracy" held at Bashudhara City in the capital.
The minister said the government well ahead of Eid compelled all the 3,600 garment factory authorities to pay salaries and Eid bonuses, consequently there was movement in the 3,600 factories except in Tuba.
He reasoned that the disbursement of salaries and Eid bonus in Tuba Group was delayed as its owner was in jail.
Regarding trade union Shahjahan said the role of trade unions is complementary to the government in upholding the rights of workers.
He claimed that his government has reinstated the rights of forming trade unions but earlier workers needed to obtain permission of the factory owners to form a trade union --which is not required at present.
Nari Cell (NC) of the Communist Party of Bangladesh also condemned law enforces attack on workers.
A group of civil society organisations also urged the government and garment factory owners' association to resolve the standoff over unpaid wages of workers without any further delay.