Law enforcers did not allow garment workers to stage their scheduled demonstrations in Savar and Ashulia industrial areas yesterday.
A group of workers tried to demonstrate at Ashulia around 5:00pm, demanding outstanding pays and Eid bonuses for the staff of five units of Tuba Group.
"Law enforcers beat the workers to thwart the demonstration," alleged Shahidul Islam Sabuj, finance secretary of Garment Workers Unity Forum.
A total of 10 workers were injured in Savar and Ashulia, he claimed.
Police outright denied the allegation.
"There's no question of any worker getting injured ... Two groups of workers gathered at Jamgora-Fantasy Kingdom area in Ashulia and in front of Rana Plaza site in Savar. Each group had 20-25 people. They ran away when local police chased them," said Md Mustafizur Rahman, director of Industrial Police-1, Dhaka (Ashulia).
Yesterday's programme was called by Tuba Group Shramik Sangram Committee. The workers' platform has called a strike in garment factories across the country for today with the same demand.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has called upon the workers to withdraw the strike for the sake of the industry.
“We have disbursed the outstanding wages for two of three months at the BGMEA headquarters on Thursday,” said Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of the garment makers' apex body, yesterday.
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 at the BGMEA office,” Azim said.
Tuba Group workers and labour leaders formed a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club in Dhaka yesterday, demanding payment of arrears and cancellation of Tuba Group owner Delwar Hossain's bail.
They condemned law enforces' "attack" on workers that ended an 11-day hunger strike of workers at a factory of the group on Thursday, and demanded that owners allow workers to form trade unions in all garment factories.
Labour leaders alleged Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan is working for the owners, not for the workers.
Mominur Rahman, a member of Garment Workers Unity Forum, said, “The minister is busy serving the interests of the BGMEA.”
The Shipping Minister, along with State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu, held a meeting with Delwar Hossain yesterday and later told the press at the BGMEA office that Delwar was instructed to pay the workers "by any means".
Another human chain was formed in Chittagong by rights body Coalition for Humanity demanding government's interference in realising the "just demands" of the garment workers.
Meanwhile, the shipping minister has defended Thursday's crackdown on Tuba Group workers, saying the government intervened as a faction of workers tried to refrain workers from receiving arrears.
"When the government had taken steps for providing wages of the agitating workers, a section of workers tried to create a problem so that other workers could not receive it. This compelled the government to intervene," Shajahan Khan said at a programme at Bashudhara City in the capital.
He said the disbursement of salaries and Eid bonuses at Tuba Group was delayed as its owner was in jail.