Workers of the nine state-owned jute mills in Khulna-Jashore industrial belt yesterday demonstrated to press home their 11-point demand, including payment of their dues and implementation of their new wage board.
Around 9:00am, thousands of workers took part in a two-hour procession that paraded through Daulatpur and Khalishpur areas of Khulna city.
The government announced a wage board on June, 2015, but it is yet to be implemented.
Meanwhile, the workers are also going to observe a 24-hour work abstention from 6:00am today to realise their demands, said Shahana Sharmin, president of Platinum Jute Mills workers union.
Workers of Daulatpur, Khalishpur, Crescent, Platinum, Star, Alim, and Eastern jute mills first gathered in front of their respective mill gates and then brought out the procession.
The demonstrators also put barricades at five points, including Natun Rasta intersection, BIDC Road, BL College road and Atra industrial area, disrupting traffic movement on the Khulna-Jashore highway for one and a half hours until 11:30am.
In Jashore, workers of Jashore Jute Industries Ltd and Carpeting Jute Mills Ltd also brought out a demonstration procession in Rajghat area.
Abdul Hamid Sarder, convener of CBA and Non-CBA Sangram Parishad, told The Daily Star that the jute sector was in turmoil due to some government’s policies.
He alleged that Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation could not handle the jute mills properly.
“If the government takes pragmatic steps with the workers, it would be possible to run the jute sector properly,” said Hamid.
“The government does not allocate money for purchasing raw jute in proper time. When the money is allocated, the time for buying raw jute is over. Then the mill authorities purchase rotten and substandard raw jute, spending extra, he alleged.
Putul Khatun, a Crescent Jute Mills worker, told this newspaper that she could not maintain her six-member family as her wage was Tk 1,800 a week.
Yesterday’s demonstration was the part of their seven-day agitation programme announced on November 23 under the banner of “State-owned Jute Mill Collective Bargaining Association (CBA) and Non-CBA Sangram Parishad”.
Their 11-point demand include cancellation of public-private ownership of jute mills, payment of provident fund and gratuity for retired workers, regularisation of weekly wages and implementation of the wage commission and payment of their arrears.
The workers also demanded that the government buy jute products for other sectors.
Over 31,000 workers (permanent and daily basis) have been working of nine state-owned jute mills in Khulna-Jashore industrial belt.
Around 11 weeks’ wages are unpaid for workers at Crescent, Platinum and Star jute mills and nine weeks for Khalishpur Jute Mills workers and 10 weeks for Daulatpur Jute Mills employees.
The other mill workers are also not being paid regularly and their wages are at least seven-eight weeks’ dues.