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Dhaka Tribune

Narsingdi business leaders protest mill-attacks, demand punishment

Update : 04 Aug 2013, 03:07 PM

Businesses leaders in Narsingdi strongly condemned the August 1 attacks on several textile mills in the district's Chowala area and demanded that disruptive workers and "culprits" behind the act be punished.

Narsingdi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) convened a press conference yesterday to protest the incident. NCCI president Mosharraf Hossain read out a written statement in which he called the attacks "deliberate" and "premeditated" – and stated that they intended to ruin the future of the industry.

He also described what happened that day.

About 500 people, including agitated workers and "outsiders with political motives," attacked ten textile mills and torched the office of the textile mills owners' association – to press home their demand for August salaries and Eid bonuses.

They vandalised mill properties and caused losses that affected businessmen claimed would "run into the millions." The mills are, among others, Ananya Textile, Fakhrul Textile, Riaj Textile, Kajol Textile and Salma Textile, Mosharraf said.

NCCI leaders alleged that some political leaders had incited the workers to attack for their own interests and collected "huge sums of money" from different mill owners in the name of workers' welfare.

Their objective, they said, was to "destroy" the textile sector in Narsingdi.

The leaders urged the government to take action against those who orchestrated the attacks and participated in them.

NCCI vice-president Abdullah Al Mamu, Vice-president Tajul Islam, directors and members of the organisation and leaders of the mills owners' association were also present on the occasion.

Sources said, on July 31, local MP and chief advisor of Textile Workers' Federation Nazrul Islam Hiru announced that workers would get Tk2,000 as Eid bonus and mill owners would pay two Eid bonuses yearly.

However, his announcement was opposed by mill owners, who cited a meeting held last year where, they said, it was decided that workers would get one Eid bonus annually – amounting to Tk1,500 – and their wages would be on the basis of production. An agreement was signed to that effect in the meeting, which was attended by representatives of workers, mill owners, NCCI and the deputy commissioner.

Textile leaders blamed MP Hiru for violating the agreement and making the situation volatile.

About 200 textile mills were reportedly closed since August 1 in anticipation of further attacks – to the obvious disappointment of workers, who demanded resumption of the mills and full payment of their dues.

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