RMG SECTOR UNREST

Lawmen identify ‘instigators’
Rabiul Islam, Mohammad Jamil Khan

Intelligence agencies are collecting personal information about hundreds of labour leaders, especially by tracking their mobile phone numbers

  • BGB members’ petrol in the Ashulia area because of consecutive clashes between workers and law enforcers in the area in recent days 
    Photo- Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

With the country’s political arena heating up to the boiling point and violence never quite fully recessing, the recent spike in labour unrest in the industrial areas near the capital has added to the already mounting pressure on law enforcers.

The latest spate of unrest, especially over the last two days, have killed at least two and injured many other as agitated garment factory workers – demanding Tk8,000 minimum wage in response to the government-fixed and owner-endorsed Tk5,300 – locked into clashes with law enforcers in Savar and Ashulia near Dhaka.

The government has always claimed that the industrial unrests that have been going off and on for a number of months, are instigated by vested interests including labour leaders, political figures and non-government organisations.

In line with that claim, intelligence agencies have reportedly shortlisted a number of labour leaders who they think are the instigators behind the recurring violence.

Intelligence sources said the list included names like Moshrefa Mishu, Mintu Ghosh, Kolpona Akter, Nowab Ali, Nazrul Ali, Mahbubur Rahman, Bazlur Rahman, Bahar Uddin, Shamima Nasrin, Ruhul Amin, Babul Akter, Abu Bakkar Siddique, Sohag, Sohrab and Moazzem Hossain.

Some of them are known for their affiliations with a number of left leaning political parties.

Sources said intelligence agencies have been collecting personal information about hundreds of labour leaders, especially by tracking their mobile phone numbers to tap their movements and activities.

A home ministry official told the Dhaka Tribune that law enforcers have launched vigilance activities in the industrial areas following ministry directives upon a request from the labour ministry.

The official also said they had got hold of information that a number of non-government organisations and some political leaders were involved with the violence, in an ill-attempt to destroy the readymade garment sector, the biggest foreign currency earning component of the country’s economy.

He added that it was nothing new and that these NGOs and the political leaders had been instigating the labourers to go violent for quite some time now.

Sources said RMG factory owners’ association BGMEA had been cooperating with the law enforcement agencies to pin point those who had been allegedly stirring up the workers.

As an immediate measure to avoid losses from the ongoing unrest, factory owners in the industrial districts around the capital have kept RMG units closed.

State Minister for Home Shamsul Hoque Tuku told the Dhaka Tribune that following the ministry’s order, law enforcement agencies had already prepared a database of information about the “instigators” of the unrest.

Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju is scheduled to sit in an emergency meeting with the RMG sector stakeholders, including labour leaders, this afternoon to find a solution to the crisis.

According to a labour ministry notice, representatives of at least 28 workers’ associations will attend the meeting scheduled to be held at the ministry conference room at 3pm.

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