Police chase and charge truncheons on reportedly innocent garment workers of AM Design in Ashulia yesterday after a group of unruly workers went on the rampage there. Photo: Anisur Rahman
Stemming from the Tazreen Fashions disaster, garment and leather workers' agitations in Ashulia industrial belt continued yesterday as they attacked several factories and clashed with industrial police.
They halted traffic on Dhaka-Tangail highway at Jamgara for about 45 minutes.
Police had to resort to teargas, rubber bullets and truncheon charge to disperse them as the workers fought running battles with them.
Mitu, a staff of MD Jeans, lost consciousness when police charged truncheons.
The workers' unrest began since a fire on November 24 claimed 111 lives at Tazreen Fashions factory in Ashulia.
The demonstrations yesterday began around 9:00am when nearly 1,000 workers of leather factory Picard Bangladesh Ltd in Zirabo came out of their factory to protest garments workers' attack on their unit on Saturday.
Golam Rouf, director of industrial police, said workers of adjoining garment factories also took to the streets then but police promptly dispersed them. The workers were only interested in dodging a day's work using any excuse available, he claimed.
Rouf said just before 11:00am, 25 garment workers attacked the Rose Dress factory. The 25 workers had been suspended by Hyun Apparels Ltd, now temporarily closed, in connection with assaulting a factory official.
Workers of Rose Dress then rushed out and started vandalising adjoining factories including Sterling Creations Ltd and Setara Garments.
They broke windowpanes of the factories.
Industrial police rushed to Jamgara, chased the workers, lobbed teargas canisters, fired rubber bullets and brought the situation under control around 11:30am.
Fearing vandalism, the authorities of different factories in the neighbourhood stopped production and let the workers go home for the day.
A chaotic situation was created in the area with the sudden rush of hundreds of workers on the highway and its adjacent roads.
TAZREEN WORKERS' SALARY
All workers of Tazreen Fashions would get their salaries by Thursday, Labour and Employment Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju yesterday said.
However, there is a dispute over the number of workers to be paid and how many months of salary they would get.
The government would sit with the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association to discuss these issues, TV channel ATN Bangla quoted the minister as saying.
The minister was speaking to the press after a meeting with US Ambassador Dan Mozena.
The US ambassador said the US hopes the government would ensure the security of the workers and their right to unionise. Otherwise, Bangladesh might be deprived of the potential preferential access to the US apparel market, he added.
Meanwhile, survivors of the Tazreen disaster said they would not accept just one month's salary since they might have to be out of a job for a long time.
They demand that they get paid four months and 13 days' salary altogether, which, according to the workers, factories have to pay to workers in case of any closure.
However, according to the government rule, a garment factory has to provide its workers with the salaries of three months and 13 days if it is closed or a worker is dismissed.
Tazreen Fashions has 1,700 employees, of whom, 1,630 are workers, according to the website of Tuba Group, which owns the factory.