Transport workers are pushing the government to meet their eight demands, including amendment to the Road Transport Act
Transport workers have called a 48-hour strike across Bangladesh starting Sunday to press home their eight-point charter of demands, which includes amendments to the recently-passed Road Transport Act 2018.
Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation (BRTWF) made the announcement in a media statement issued on Saturday.
The nationwide strike will begin at 6am Sunday, said the statement signed by BRTWF President Waziuddin Khan and General Secretary Osman Ali.
On September 19, parliament passed the Road Transport Act 2018.
According to the law, if anybody causes an accident by reckless and negligent driving, and kills or injures someone seriously, such person would face a maximum sentence of five years in jail or a fine of Tk5 lakh, or both.
However, if it is found that a driver has deliberately killed anyone or not averted a killing in a road accident, the matter would fall under either section 302 (murder) or 304 (culpable homicide) of the Penal Code, according to the explanation of the proposed act by the law minister.
The maximum punishment under section 302 of the Penal Code is the death penalty, while it is life imprisonment under section 304.
BRTWF said that several provisions of the new law have left transport workers in doldrums. Transport workers drive on the roads risking death. They risk death once again through trial.
The federation says the act’s provision defining road accidents as criminal offences and allowing a maximum punishment of the death sentence, considering deaths as murders, has also caused a lot of workers to switch industries.
“Road transport is a public service sector. By making the workers stand trial in front of society and the people, these sections of the law can make people happy, but they raise the possibility of extreme disasters in workers’ lives. That's not what we want.”
Their eight demands include making all offences under the Road Transport Act “bailable,” cancellation of the provision that allows a worker to be fined Tk5 lakh for involvement in a road accident, changing the minimum educational qualification from class-VIII to class-V for getting driving licences, and stopping police harassment on roads.
The eight demands of transport workers are:
Earlier, on October 7, the Paribahan Malik Sramik Oikya Parishad (transport owner and worker unity council) called a strike with a seven-point demand for amendment of the recently passed Road Transport Act.
On October 9, at 4pm, transport workers had withdrawn the strike on the assurance of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal.
Later, on October 12, the workers' association, decided to launch a demonstration by going on a two-day work abstention from October 28 to press home their eight-point demands that included amendments to the Road Transport Act, if their demands were not met by October 27.
But on Friday (October 26), a worker was killed in a clash between road transport workers and police in Keraniganj. Transport workers angered by the incident called the strike.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Road Transport Workers League and several other transport related organizations issued a statement declaring the strike illegal.