CEPZ workers go berserk over new pay scale
Thousands of garment workers yesterday vandalised several factories, vehicles and clashed with police in the Chittagong Export Processing Zone in the port city, demanding salaries under the new pay scale and improved working condition.
Workers of two garment makers—Section Seven Ltd and Section Seven Apparels Ltd—gathered in front of the former's factory building in the area to voice their demands at around 8am.
After some time, the agitated workers started hurling brickbats and vandalising nearly five factories, including Excelsior Shoes Ltd and Peninsula Garments.
They attacked three cars, torched a motorcycle and built numerous fires on the road and clashed with the law enforcers, when 10 workers and seven policemen got injured.
Around four platoons of police were deployed there who opened fire rubber and shotgun bullets and tear gas canisters to take control of the situation, said Arifur Rahman Arif, deputy assistant director of Industrial Police 3 in Chittagong.
The clashes lasted till noon, and the workers left the place after the concerned factory authorities agreed to pay salaries as per the new scale on January 9, said SM Abdur Rashid, general manager of CEPZ.
The factory authorities also agreed to meet the workers' other demands in phases at a meeting at the office of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority, Rashid said.
Anwarul Islam, one of the workers, said his factory pays him Tk 4,600 a month. The authorities did not increase the salary in December, which they were supposed to do, he said.
“The authorities rather forced us to increase production saying the wages would be increased.”
Many workers also alleged that the supervisors at the factory often beat them and also forced them to work on last Friday without any overtime.
The workers also complained that there has been no water in their lavatory since the past week. The factory management could not be contacted despite several attempts.
The workers said they informed the factory authorities several times about the problems, but they took no action. The workers were said that they were free to leave the job if they could not handle the situation.
They also complained to Bepza authorities in these regards, but the latter remained silent on the issue.