Factories to reopen today
After four days of shutdown, owners of Ashulia-based garment factories yesterday decided to reopen more than 300 units today upon government assurance that it will ensure security of the factories.
The decision came at a meeting between Labour Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain and the leaders of BGMEA, BKMEA, FBCCI and Bangladesh Employers' Federation at the ministry.
“We have decided to reopen our factories from tomorrow [today] as the government has assured us of security in the industry,” Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told The Daily Star yesterday.
At the meeting, the minister called upon the garment factory owners to reopen their factories, and assured them of security.
After a weeklong spate of street violence by the workers in the area demanding a pay raise, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) on Saturday announced the shutdown that began on Sunday.
The owners closed the factories demanding security, normal working environment and punishment of those responsible for the unrest.
Against this backdrop, State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian earlier on Tuesday held meetings with all the parties concerned.
She also held a meeting with the labour leaders separately at the secretariat to bring an end to the crisis created in the country's highest export earning sector.
After the meeting yesterday, Mosharraf said that on instructions from the prime minister, the government will initially provide the garment workers with rice at lower price, and gradually other essentials, according to a press statement of the labour ministry.
He said food inflation has now declined to 7.46 percent but the workers are in trouble because of non-food issues.
“For example, they (workers) are in trouble regarding accommodation and transport. Each year, house rent is being hiked three to four times, which is not acceptable,” said the labour minister.
He assured that the authorities will take stringent measures for regulating house rent, and mentioned that initiatives have already been taken to address the workers' accommodation problems in Chittagong.
The minister said any reasonable demands from the workers will be discussed and addressed.
Noting that various conspiracies are on against garment industry, he urged the workers, “Please don't take part in any conspiracies. Don't take law in your own hand." Those who participate in destructive activities will be brought to book, he warned.
The minister also assured that false cases filed against the workers will be withdrawn soon.
He also requested the garment owners to be sympathetic to the workers and hoped that the issue of losses caused by the labour unrest and subsequent closures will be solved through discussions with all concerned.
The labour unrest in Ashulia had started over the rumour of death of a storekeeper of Ha-Meem Group on May 11. The agitation was, however, brought under control with the reappearance of the missing employee, Salman. But the workers started fresh agitation on June 13 demanding a pay hike.