Several hundred ready-made garment (RMG) workers clashed with police on Monday after blocking a key street in Mirpur demanding outstanding salaries.
Locals said workers of Meridian Fashions Ltd occupied the street in front of the Sony Cinema Hall around 10:30am and vandalised several vehicles.
The demonstration caused huge traffic congestion in Mirpur and surrounding areas.
The protesting RMG workers were still on the street as of 9pm, Mirpur police station Inspector (Investigation) Mizanur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune.
At least 10 people were injured in the clash, including police officials. Shah Ali police station Inspector Mahedi Hasan is among the injured policemen.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Deputy Commissioner (Mirpur Division) of Police Masud Ahmed said: “We heard that 21 workers had been laid off by the factory authorities a few days ago. This prompted the remaining 600 workers to launch a protest; they refused to work and demanded their salaries.”
The factory owner told the workers to continue their work, but they continued their demonstration demanding their dues.
According to the factory regulations, employees have to give prior notice to leave their jobs; employers, too, has to give a notice to the employees before terminating their jobs.[caption id="attachment_148259" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Vehicles were trapped on Mirpur Road for around three hours while the garment workers carried out a demonstration asking for overdue wages Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune[/caption] “A meeting is being held at the BGMEA in the hopes of finding a solution,” the deputy commissioner added. He further said there was no traffic congestion on the street and a diversion had been created for free movement of vehicles. Police have been instructed to be patient to avoid further problems. However, locals complained about the traffic gridlock created by the protesters. Meanwhile, police and locals said Meridian Fashions Ltd issued a notice sometime on Sunday, announcing the factory’s closure from Monday to Wednesday due to an alleged illegal strike. The factory authorities threatened to prolong the closing period if the situation did not improve. Zahir Uddin, one of the employees, said: “We arrived in the morning today [on Monday] and found the factory gate locked. No notice was given to us. On Monday was supposed to be payday. How will we eat if we do not get paid? We are not leaving until we get our money.” Bilkis, another employee, said: “We work for a living. The factory suddenly shut down. Let the factory close after they pay us.” Another worker, Shajahan, said someone was terminated by the factory owners every few days. “Ten people have been fired by the owner. Last Saturday, 21 people were fired.” BGMEA sources said the owner and the workers held a meeting at the BGMEA office. It has been decided that the factory will reopen today. The employees that were fired will be compensated in the next three working days. If they do not receive their payment, a written complaint will be made to the BGMEA, who will then solve the issue, the sources said, adding that no legal action will be taken against the workers who protested. All types of leave, including maternity leave under the labour law will be provided to factory employees, the sources further said.