A total 6,000 municipal employees have not been paid salaries in 5 years
Officers and employees of 328 municipalities continued protests demanding outstanding wages for the 20th consecutive day on Friday.
The sit-in demonstration was organized by the Bangladesh Municipal Service Association (BMSA), a platform of employees of municipalities across the country, in front of the National Press Club.
Municipal employees have long been demanding nationalization of their jobs for access to the state treasury, as municipalities have been unable to pay their salaries due to lack of funding. According to statistics from the BMSA, 6,000 employees have been without salaries for five years, around 12,000 for two years, and another 5,000 for a year.
Furthermore, 964 retired employees have not received any pensions, with the unpaid pensions totaling Tk120 crore.
However, no officials of the administration have met with the protesters since the latest string of protests began on July 14.
Shakhawat Sumon, who works as an office assistant in Bhola Lalmohon municipality, said he is supposed to be paid Tk14,000 each month, but he has not been paid in four years.
“I have a seven-month-old baby boy, and I have to provide for my family, siblings and parents with this salary. I have been leading a miserable life as I have not been paid my salary for 48 months,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
He further said they still received facilities as government employees, but even pensions often went unpaid.
Tasmin Ali Lili, organizing secretary of the BMSA Dhaka Central Committee, said she has been working for 25 years but was not paid her salary in the last 12 months.
“We want our salary from the state treasury,” she added, mentioning that she had fallen ill and was suffering from breathing problems during the protests.
“Some of our other employees fell ill as well. Four of our members have already died from heat stroke and fever. Some have been admitted to hospitals,” she further said.
Mohammad Shah Alam, another protester, said: “One of our fellow protesters named Anwar Hossain Khan suffered an accident while protesting.
Claiming that the municipalities have no planning, the agitators said the municipalities have been recruiting employees despite being unable to pay the salaries of existing ones.
Following similar previous protests by municipal employees, the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (LGRD) formed a committee to address the issue in March last year. The committee submitted a report on April 16 this year, recommending that the government allocate Tk346 crore, half the total arrears, for the employees as an immediate solution.
The LGRD minister could not be reached for comment on the latest string of protests.
When contacted, Director General of Local Government Nikhil Rangon Ray said he was not looking into this matter and hence cannot discuss it.