Water transport workers called off their scheduled countrywide indefinite work abstention that was supposed to start at 12:00am today to press home their 21-point demand, including the release of their co-workers in jail.
Shah Alam Bhuiyan, president of Bangladesh Noujan Sramik Federation, told The Daily Star around 10:50pm yesterday that they cancelled their programme following assurances from the government and launch owners that they would meet their demands.
A tri-partite agreement was signed between the federation, the government and the launch owners at the labour department yesterday. The labour secretary was present there, he said.
Around 3:15pm yesterday, Chowdhury Ashiqul Alam, general secretary of the federation, said they decided to enforce the work abstention as they did not get any assurance regarding their demands.
On July 12, Shah Alam Bhuiyan at a rally in front of the Jatiya Press Club announced that they would go for the work abstention if their demands were not met by yesterday.
On that day, Bangladesh Noujan Sramik Federation submitted a memorandum to the prime minister.
The federation's demands include the repatriation of eight transport workers who are in an Indian jail since March 22, and the immediate release of eight other workers who were convicted in a case filed over the capsize of MV Koko-4 in November 2009.
Ashiqul of the federation said eight workers were arrested at Haldia port of Kolkata when they went there to buy supplies.
On April 25 this year, the Marine Court in Dhaka punished MV Koko-4 owning company MS Rahman Shipyard BD Ltd and sentenced nine of its staffers for their involvement in the capsize that left 81 people dead and many more missing.
One of the nine punished has passed away.
The federation demanded the arrestees' immediate release and called for a review of the accident.
The other demands include issuance of appointment letters, identity cards and service books for all workers by the launch owners; an end to the harassment of workers by filing cases against them for accidents, overloading of boats and other charges; and prevention of extortion and robbery on the waterways.