May Day Observed: Workers’ rights still a far cry | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 03, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:01 AM, May 03, 2019

May Day Observed: Workers’ rights still a far cry

Workers from tannery and garment factories demonstrated in Savar on Wednesday to press home their demands -- including increase in wage and development of workplaces -- in observance of May Day.

Under the banner of “Tannery Workers Union”, more than 4,000 workers holding red flags rallied at Tannery Industrial Estate. Later, they brought out a procession.

Their demands included payment of minimum wage set by the government, increase in daily wage by Tk 80 each for temporary workers, no obstacle to become a member of workers’ union according to International Labour Organization and labour law, establishing a hospital at the estate, a canteen at each factory and housing facility.

The workers said they have to struggle every single day to cope with the price hike of essential commodities owing to their low income. The daily wage of a temporary worker is only Tk 250-350, they said.

Majority of the workers have to spend more on transport fare as they commute to workplaces from the capital’s Hazaribagh. These costs can be avoided if they have accommodation near the estate, said the demonstrators.

Sumon Mia, a worker, said, “I have to spend Tk 2,000 every month on transport which is unaffordable for me.”

About duty hours, Rofiqul Alom said he has to work for 12 hours which is against labour law.

Kamal Hossen, another worker, said road and drainage condition inside the estate is yet to be developed, causing waterlogging even after a little rain.

He also pointed out inadequate road lighting on the estate premises.

Abdul Maleque, general secretary of the union, said the government relocated Tannery Industrial Estate to Savar from Hazaribagh, but it is yet to be workers- and environment-friendly.

Talking to The Daily Star, he demanded an end to termination of workers. “More than 7,000 to 8,000 workers lost their jobs after the relocation.”

He also sought immediate development of the tannery estate.

Abul Kalam Azad, the union president, said the government set Tk 13,500 as the minimum salary for a worker which is yet to be followed.

Meanwhile, garment workers organised similar programmes in different areas of Savar.

Their demands include workplace safety, proper compensation for victims in workplace accidents, a stop to sexual harassment of female workers inside factories, building more dormitories for RMG workers, withdrawal of all cases filed against workers and labour leaders.

The organisations holding programmes on the occasion included Bangladesh Garments and Shilpa Sramik Federation, Garments Sramik Front, Bangladesh Textile and Garment Workers League, Bangladesh Industrial Sramik Federation, Swadhin Bangla Garments Karmachari Federation, and Textile and Workers Federation.

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