Employees of Joypurhat Sugar Mill have been passing their days in hardship as they have not been paid their salaries due to fund constraint for the last two months.
The mill was founded in 1961 on 217 acres of land while suagarcane crushing began in 1963.
Managing Director (MD) Mostafa Kamal said they need Tk 2 crore to pay salaries of 550 workers, which the mill authorities are unable to pay as the produced sugar remains unsold.
Ramzan Ali, 55, an unloading worker, said as they are not paid their salaries for the last two months, many workers like him have gone for other works. He said he pulls a rickshaw every day for livelihood.
“Life was better here before, but things got bad during the last couple of years due to irregular payment of salary to the employees because of fund crisis,” he said.
Zafar Ali, an employee of power section at the mill, now drives a battery-run three-wheeler. “Many employees are doing part-time jobs to earn money,” said Zafar.
Around 1,400 tonnes of sugar worth Tk 7.50 crore was produced in the last crushing season but all of it remained unsold, said managing director Mostafa. Besides, 3,300 tonnes of molasses was produced in the last season but it has remained unsold, he added.
“The salaries of 550 employees could have been disbursed if the sugar could have been sold,” said an official at the mill. “Where will we get Tk 2 crore for paying their salaries?” he said. The workers have been agitating for payment of the arrears, he added.
Former general secretary of the mill workers union Ashraful Islam said the government should adopt a master plan for revival of sale of the cash-strapped sugar mill, an important industry in the district.
The sugar mill employees urged the government to sell the produced sugar at subsidised rates.
Mostafa said they have marketing problems in selling the produced sugar. He said salary could not be paid on time due to fund shortage, however, they would be paid as soon as possible.