Road Transport Act: Workers stick to demand for changes | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 23, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:36 AM, November 23, 2019

Road Transport Act: Workers stick to demand for changes

Threaten to enforce 72-hr strike in January

Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation will enforce a countrywide 72-hour strike in January if their demand for bringing “necessary amendments” to the Road Transport Act-2018 is not met.

Besides, it will go for an “immediate protest programme” like work abstention if any case is filed against transport workers under the new law.

The federation, a platform of 233 transport workers’ unions, made the decisions at its two-day extended meeting, which ended in the capital yesterday, two top leaders of the federation told The Daily Star last night.

The organisation, however, did not announce any protest programme yesterday as Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan called them for a meeting today to discuss their demands, the two leaders said wishing anonymity.

Shajahan Khan, executive president of the federation, said they would place their demands that include bringing changes to several sections of the law.

“We will announce our protest programme within a day or two after observing how he [home minister] solves our problems,” he told reporters after the meeting at the federation’s Segunbagicha office.

He also said transport workers, who had been refraining from work in several districts for the last few days, resumed work yesterday following requests from the federation.

Our district correspondents also reported that bus services resumed in nine districts yesterday, ending people’s sufferings.

The authorities started enforcing the Road Transport Act on Sunday, two weeks after the law came into force.

Transport workers called a wildcat strike in different districts from Monday, while truck workers and owners called an indefinite strike on Tuesday, demanding amendments to the law.

However, the strike of truck workers and owners was called off early on Thursday after the home minister had assured them of meeting their several demands.

In an apparent attempt to appease the agitating transport workers, the government assured them of relaxed and gradual implementation of the law.

DECISIONS OF FEDERATION

A top leader of the federation last night said most of their local leaders in the meeting demanded amendment to the act and urged the central leaders to announce tougher agitation programmes to force the government to meet their demands.

Accordingly, the federation decided to call a countrywide 72-hour strike in the last week of January if the law was not amended by then, he told this correspondent.

The federation picked January for enforcing the strike as it was unwilling to do so in December, the month of victory, he said.

The workers’ leader said their demands include making all offences under the act bailable, scrapping of the provision for fining a worker Tk 5 lakh for involvement in a road accident, reducing the minimum educational qualification requirement for obtaining a driving licence from class-VIII to class-V, and ending harassment by police on roads.

Amid a widespread student agitation for safe road, parliament passed the act in September last year to bring discipline on roads. But its implementation remained halted for more than a year as transport leaders allegedly lobbied against it.

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