Workers of nine state-run jute mills in Khulna, who have been demonstrating for arrears and better pays since early this month, yesterday accused their leaders of failing to draw the attention of the higher authorities to their plights.
Talking to The Daily Star, they said the “go-slow” strategy would not help and they needed to go for a tougher movement.
“From the beginning, the leaders have failed to draw the attention of the policymakers,” said Sariful Alam, 63, a permanent worker of Platinum Jubilee Jute Mills.
“Workers want a solution through peaceful demonstrations, but given the present situation, it won’t work.”
Around 35,000 workers have refrained from work since May 5 and holding street protests.
Salina Banu, a worker of Crescent Jute Mills, said, “My past experiences suggest that no government did anything for jute mills workers without a greater movement.”
“The leaders’ go-slow strategy will not bring any solution. We should block all the roads to Khulna. Only then the authorities will solve our problem.”
Yesterday, thousands of workers blocked roads and rail tracks in Khulna and Jashore for around three hours from 4:00pm. They blocked Dhaka-Khulna highway in Kabirbottala, Notunrasta Mor, Daulatpur, Atra industrial area, and railway lines in Notunrasta and Rajkhat, reports our Khulna correspondent.
Meanwhile, Sardar Mozahar Uddin, president of Bangladesh Jute Mills Workers League, a pro-government workers’ platform, said they were observing the overall situation. Every problem could be resolved through discussions, he said, adding that the government would certainly come up with a solution.
A meeting between workers’ leaders and Bangladesh Jute Mill Corporation (BJMC) is scheduled for tomorrow in Dhaka. Workers threatened that they would launch tougher protests if their demands were not met.
Sohrab Hossain, secretary of a workers’ platform at Crescent Jute Mills, said, “We are waiting for May 18. We hope the wage commission would make a commitment on that day.
“If we don’t get paid within the time, we will go for tougher demonstrations,” he said.
‘GOVT WORKING ON PAYING ARREARS’
Textiles and Jute Secretary Mizanur Rahman has said the government is working to pay the arrears of the agitating workers directly to their bank accounts from the finance ministry.
“Hopefully, we’ll able to hand over to the finance ministry the list of workers, their bank account numbers and the amount of arrears by Sunday,” he told The Daily Star last night.
After a series of meetings, the Prime Minister’s Office, the finance ministry, the textiles and jute ministry and the BJMC have agreed to pay the arrears to end the stalemate.
The secretary, however, could not confirm when the finance ministry would disburse the money.
Mozahar, president of Jute Mills Workers League, said they would not call off the demonstration until the arrears were paid.
“Nobody has informed us anything…. We won’t stop our movement until we see the money deposited in the workers’ accounts,” he told The Daily Star last night.