Violence in garments belt
The garment workers again erupted into violence at the Ashulia flashpoint in Savar on Monday leading to pitched battles between police and workers and hours-long blockade on the Dhaka-Tangail highway.
In the backlash, more than a hundred garment units including the particular factory where the unrest started have suspended their production. It has made the workers' life uncertain as well as may have cast its shadow over RMG export from an entire industrial belt.
It may be recalled here that the government, following a severe and long-drawn workers' strike with attendant violence demanding minimum wage that about crippled the industry, had finally intervened and settled the matter three years ago.
The minimum wage set at Tk. 3000 from November 2010 up from a mere Tk. 1662, has been generally complied with. The three-year cap is almost coming to an end. Now is the time to start negotiating a salary raise through discussion among stakeholders.
However, we have to say that the violence breaking out from time to time points to some deeper malaise that will have to be addressed squarely given the seminal importance of this export earning sector.
Since all the factories of the Ashulia belt become directly affected by workers unrest starting from any single factory, the government needs to look into the matter seriously. The government should mount an investigation to find the root cause and resolve it one and for all.
Also, all other issues like the labour leader Aminul Islam's disappearance and murder, workers' rights and so on having a bearing on the overseas market of RMG products are clamouring for urgent attention and matching action from the government.
Let's not forget that the RMG sector faces the prospect of declining demand in our markets in the West. At a time like this, the government, garment industry leaders, management and workers must put their heads together to set their house in order.