Workers of state-run jute mills continued their demonstration for the fourth consecutive day yesterday demanding arrears and fair wages.
In the capital’s Demra, hundreds of workers of Latif Bawany Jute Mills and Karim Jute Mills blocked roads near Sultana Kamal Bridge and Staff Quarter area with logs and bamboos. They demonstrated from around 6:00am-4:00pm.
The road blocks caused long tailbacks near Staff Quarter and on Jatrabari-Demra and Rupganj-Sultana Kamal Bridge roads. Hundreds of people were forced to walk under the scorching sun.
Assistant Commissioner Rabiul Islam of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Demra) said the tailbacks had affected Dhaka-Chattogram highway.
The jute mills workers have been demonstrating for weeks to press home a set of demands, including implementation of a new wage board and arrears.
Abul Hossain, general secretary of Karim Jute Mills, said none of the 2,800 workers in their mills have been paid in the last six weeks.
“We have no other choice but to go for the blockade. We got our backs against the wall,” he said, adding that they would resume their blockade from Saturday morning.
Manik Mia, who has been working in the mills for 15 years, said he was paid only Tk 3,000 a week.
“It is difficult for me to run my family of five even when I am paid regularly. No one even wants to lend us money because we are not paid.
“Sometimes I pull rickshaws at night to make ends meet,” he said.
In another part of the country, some 35,000 workers of eight state-run jute mills in Khulna and Jashore continued their work-stoppage that started on Sunday night.
From Tuesday, the workers had been blocking the Dhaka-Khulna highway and rail tracks near Notun Rasta intersection in Khulna city between 4:00pm and 7:00pm.
In Khulna yesterday, hundreds of workers gathered in Notun Rasta, Kabir Bottola and Daulatpur areas in the afternoon and demonstrated with empty plates and pots and then sat in the middle of Dhaka-Khulna highway.
In Jashore, workers from Jashore Jute Industry and Carpeting Jute Mills Ltd blocked the highway in Rajghat area.
Buses leaving Khulna after 4:00pm remained stranded for hours.
Railway communication was also disrupted between 4:00pm and 7:00pm due to the blockade, said Manik Chandra Sarker, manager of Khulna Railway Station.
Platinum jute mills worker Mizanur Rahman told The Daily Star that he would gladly leave his job if he gets his three months’ arrears.
According to Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation in Khulna, the corporation is losing about Tk 4 crore every day due to the work stoppage.
According to BJMC there are 14,525 permanent and 18,552 temporary workers of the jute mills.