The countrywide transport strike has been called off following a meeting between the workers' leaders and four ministers on Wednesday afternoon.
“We had a meeting with the ministers. The bus drivers and workers will now return to work," said the pro-government Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Federation’s (BRTWF) senior vice-president, Abdur Rahim Baksh.
Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan, also BRTWF executive president and an initial supporter of the industrial action, told reporters after the meeting in Motijheel that the transport workers had not even been on strike.
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Protesters take to the streets armed with sticks and bricks Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune
"They were just on work abstention. I have urged them to get back to work," he said.
Earlier in the day, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader told reporters that he would try to find a solution to the crisis within the day.
"We have taken a decision in principle to convince the transport workers to withdraw the strike," the minister said after a meeting at his ministry on Wednesday.
Law Minister Anisul Huq and LGRD State Minister Mashiur Rahman Ranga, who is also the president of Bus Owners’ Association, also attended the meeting.
“A strike cannot bring any solution. The door of the government is open for talks,” Anisul said.
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Ranga sought to deflect blame for the chaotic scenes during the two-day strike - particularly at Gabtoli bus terminal - away from the workers.
“The transport workers were not involved in the clashes and vandalism that occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday. A wicked political party is active behind the scene."
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A physically challenged man rides on indifferent to the rampage unfolding behind him Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
The BRTWF called the strike from a meeting held at its Motijheel office on Monday night, hours after Khulna Motor Workers’ Union General Secretary Md Zakir Hossain withdrew the indefinite transport strike being observed in ten districts of the division since Sunday which had been backed by Shajahan Khan, who said the transport workers had the right to protest.
The decision was an outcome of meeting with the district administration, which the central leaders rejected later on, expanding the strike nationwide.
Jamir received his life sentence for causing the deaths of five people, including filmmaker Tareque Masud and cinematographer and journalist Mishuk Munier, in a road crash in 2011. Mir Hossain Miru was handed a death sentence following the death of a woman in a road accident at Savar, Dhaka in 2003.
The transport strike first began in Chuadanga, the home of bus driver Jamir, on February 22, the day when a Manikganj court sentenced him to life imprisonment in a landmark verdict.