Sramik League ‘in name only’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 09, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:21 AM, November 09, 2019

Sramik League ‘in name only’

Say insiders; it picks new leadership today

Sramik League leaders hardly work to ensure workers’ rights. They remain busy joining special day’s programmes, lobbying influential people and manipulating tenders, allege activists of the platform.

Workers of different sectors were seen taking to the streets demanding minimum wage, adequate pay and payment of arrears, but Sramik League did not stand beside the workers, they said.

Many leaders of the ruling Awami League’s associate body were mired in controversies over illegally using government vehicles, not carrying out duties at their workplaces and forming unit committees in exchange for money.

Top Sramik League leaders claim they have 50 lakh leaders and activists. The organisation has committees at the central, national, district, upazila and union levels.

Against this backdrop, 8,000 councillors of Sramik League are going to pick their new leadership at its council at the capital’s Suhrawardy Udyan today. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to inaugurate the programme.

Talking to The Daily Star, leaders of the workers’ front brushed aside the allegations.

Sramik League General Secretary Sirajul Islam said, “All these allegations are baseless. We always remain beside the workers.”

“In some cases, like the protests of garment workers, we can’t take stance in favour of them as they are not organised. They carry out their activities at their will. They don’t contact us over their issues,” he said.

Sramik League was founded in October, 1969. Sukkur Mahmud and Sirajul Islam were made president and general secretary respectively at the last council of the organisation held on July 19, 2012.

Today’s council session is taking place almost five years after the expiry of the tenure of the incumbent central committee.

Several central leaders of Sramik League said the oragnisation currently have about 50 lakh members, including around 7.5 lakh leaders.

“We can’t exactly say the number of our members, but we estimate that it is about 50 lakh,” Sirajul said.

Some leaders of Narsingdi district and Jamuna Oil Company units of Sramik League alleged that the current top leaders formed new committees of their units in exchange for money.

“We heard that several other unit committees were formed across the country in exchange for money,” said a leader of Narsingdi Sramik League, wishing not to be named.

Refuting the allegation, Sirajul said, “We are executing our responsibilities for seven and a half years. Nobody raised such allegations before. Some people are now raising these allegations with ill motives,” he said.

As per the charter of the organisation, Sramik League must hold the central council after completing the councils of its organisational districts units. But the platform is yet to hold councils in 33 organisational districts out of 78.

“We have completed holding councils in 45 organisational districts. Dates were fixed for holding councils in the rest of the districts, but those could not be organised due to some reasons, including movements by opposition parties,” Serajul said.

In February, the Anti-Corruption Commission had seized two government sport utility vehicles from two employees of Power Development Board (PDB) -- Jahirul Islam Chowdhury and Alauddin Mia, president and general secretary of the Collective Bargaining Agent of PDB.

Jahirul, also a vice president of Sramik League, and Alauddin, education and cultural affairs secretary, had been using the vehicles illegally for 10 years.

Besides, Tufan Sarker, then convenor of Bogra town Sramik League, hit the headlines in July, 2017, over abducting a female student from her home and raping her. He allegedly asked his party activists and a woman councillor to make sure everything was hushed up.

Later, Tufan and his associates allegedly tortured the student and her mother for several hours and shaved their heads.

There are also allegations that Sramik League leaders often dodge their office duties.

Asked about the allegation, Serajul said, “It’s a matter of a particular organisation. The management of that organisation should take action against such people if there were any,”.

Insiders said aspirants were lobbying influential AL leaders to secure posts in the new central committee of Sramik League.

Names of the organisation’s incumbent Executive President Fazlul Haque Montu, General Secretary Serajul, vice-presidents Habibur Rahman Akand, Aminul Haq Faruk and Jahirul Islam Chowdhury, Joint General Secretary Humayan Kabir and several other leaders were being discussed among Sramik League leaders and activists for the post of president, said sources.

On the other hand, names of Sramik League joint general secretaries Khan Sirajul Islam, Safar Ali and Tofail Ahmed, Organising Secretary Shamsul Alam Milky, Publicity Secretary KM Azam Khasru, and former organising secretary of Dhaka city unit Kamal Uddin were being discussed for the general secretary post.

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