Jute mill workers take to streets | Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 03, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:15 AM, April 03, 2019

Jute mill workers take to streets

Block roads, railways to press for payment of arrears, other demands

Workers of different state-owned jute mills yesterday blocked roads and railways in Chattogram, Khulna and Jashore to press home their nine-point demand, including payment of their arrears and implementation of the National Wage Scale-2015.

The agitators said they took to the streets as the authorities of Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) did not pay heed to their demands despite repeated appeals.

They also enforced a 72-hour work abstention from 8:00am yesterday.

Their other demands include paying gratuities and insurance claims of retired and late workers, reinstating the workers who lost jobs during previous workers' demonstrations, regularising the jobs of temporary workers and authorising the mills authorities to recruit workers.

Talking to The Daily Star, some workers said their wages remained unpaid for different periods ranging from six to 13 weeks.

Contacted, Mamunur Rashid, BJMC general manger (marketing), said they were communicating with the textiles and jute ministry to find out the ways of fulfilling the workers' demands.

In Chattogram, workers of nine jute mills under the BJMC blockaded roads and railways at different points in Sitakunda upazila and the port city for one and a half hours, reports a staff correspondent from there. 

They started demonstrations at 8:00am and halted Dhaka-bound Subarna Express, Sylhet-bound Paharika Express; blocked the Dhaka-Chattogram highway in Sitakunda and stopped a Chittagong University-bound shuttle train in front of Amin Jute Mills near the port city as part of their 72-hour strike that began yesterday.

Around 9:30am, they lifted the blockade, considering sufferings of HSC examinees and Chittagong University students, said Mohammad Mahbub, general secretary of collective bargaining agent (CBA) at Hafiz Jute Mills.

Arifur Rahman, CBA president of Amin Jute Mills, said the BJMC officials had promised to fulfill their demands by March 28. But they had failed to do it. So, the workers had no alternative to this demonstration, he added. 

Besides the two mills, seven other mills are MM Jute Mills, KMD Jute Mills, RR Jute Mills, Gul Ahamed Jute Mills, Galaxa Habib Jute Mills, Dhaka Carpet and Mill Furnishings.

In Khulna and Jashore, around 40,000 workers under the banner of collective bargaining agent and Non-CBA Oikya Parishad of nine state-owned jute mills in this region staged demonstrations and blockaded roads and railways at different points in the two districts around 8:00am, adds our Khulna correspondent.

Three trains -- Chitra Express, Rocket Express and Mohananda Express -- could not leave the Khulna Railway Station in the morning due to the blockade, said Manik Chandra Sarker, manager of the railway station.  

“If our demands are not met, we will go for a tougher movement,” said Sahanaj Sharmi, a workers' leader in Khulna.

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