Demanding higher wages, water transport workers on work abstention
Water transport workers went on an indefinite countrywide work abstention from 12:01am today demanding an increase in minimum monthly wage.
As part of the abstention, lighter vessel workers stopped unloading imported goods from bigger vessels at the outer anchorage of Chattogram Port and halted transport of these goods across the country from midnight, reports our Chattogram staff correspondent.
Unloading of goods from lighter vessels at different areas of the country like Dhaka, Narayanganj and others was also suspended, said Md Nabi Alam, vice president of Bangladesh Lighter Workers Union.
Unloading of goods from lighter vessel was suspended at 18 private ghats in the port city's Majhirghat and Sadarghat areas, he said.
General workers under the banner of Noujan Sramik Sangram Parishad announced the work abstention at a meeting in Dhaka on November 15, when they discussed their 10-point demand.
Their demands include: minimum monthly wage of Tk 20,000; Tk 10 lakh compensation in case of a worker's death while on duty -- natural or accidental; issuance of "landing pass" for India-bound workers and others.
Bangladesh Water Transport Workers Federation, a platform of eight workers' organisations, expressed solidarity with the work abstention.
Md Shah Alam, the federation's president, said after a movement, the government fixed the minimum wage at Tk 7,500 in 2016 for a five-year period. The wage was supposed to be raised in June last year.
Since then, the federation leaders have been raising their voices for a pay hike, but the government and watercraft owners did not pay heed, he said.
"The workers were planning to start a movement for a pay hike in mid-September this year. But we postponed it on request of the director general of Department of Labour, who offered a meeting over the demand," he mentioned.
The Department of Labour sat with the federation leaders on September 21 and met watercraft owners' leaders on October 13. In the latest meeting, participants decided to form a committee comprising a representative from all stakeholders within October 20 to fix new wages, said the leader.
Since no progress was seen in this regard till date, workers are unwilling to wait more and want to wage a tough movement, he said.
Alam said as prices of all commodities were rising, the wages need to be raised.
BARISHAL RIVER PORT WORKERS JOIN STRIKE
Following the announcement of the waterway strike, the workers in Barishal river port expressed solidarity and joined the work abstention after midnight.
Nazrul Islam, Waterway Workers Federation's divisional general secretary, confirmed the development to our Barishal correspondent.