‘Pay our dues’
Workers of privately owned jute mills in Khulna city demonstrated yesterday by blocking a railway track and adjacent road to press home their six-point demands, including payment of dues as per labour law, and reopening of jute mills that have been shut down.
Five private jute mills -- Mohsen, Afil, Sonali, Ajax, and Jute Spinus -- in Shiromani Industrial Area of Khulna city have been closed for years and authorities of the mills have not paid arrears of the workers yet.
Agitated workers under the banner of Private Jute, Yarn and Textile Mill Workers' Federation organised the blockade programme on the rail track and adjacent Khulna-Jashore Highway in Phulbari Gate area under Khan Jahan Ali Police Station from 10:30am till 12:30pm.
Speakers at the programme said that, according to the decision of the meeting held at the District Commissioner's Office, no goods will be brought from the mill area until the mill workers are paid all their arrears. However, the mill authorities are selling the goods after taking those out at night.
Besides, hundreds of workers of the private Mohsen Jute Mill have not been paid their dues even after nine years. Workers of Sonali, Ajax and Afil jute mills are also in facing a similar situation, they said.
The workers alleged that the mill owners are taking crores of taka in bank loans showing the jute mills and are spending that money elsewhere instead of paying the dues of the workers, disregarding the labour laws. The Labor Department has yet to take any action in this regard, they also said.
"We have been visiting various offices for a long time to resolve our problems, to no avail. In these difficult times, the owners are selling the properties without paying us our dues," said Sheikh Amjad Hossain, president of the federation.
"If the problems of the workers are not resolved within this week, the labour leaders will hold a public meeting at Phulbari Gate Janata Market Square on September 15, and carry out a road and railway blockade program at Phulbari Gate on September 17 from 6:00am to 12noon," he added.
Md Kamal Hossain, officer-in-charge of the police station confirmed the matter to The Daily Star, adding that police did not intervene the workers' protest programme.