More than 25,000 workers of eight jute mills in Jessore and Khulna have been observing continuous protest programs to press home their 11-point demand, halting the production of these factories.
An outrageous situation is prevailing in the industrial belt of these two districts after one of the workers named Sarder Abul Khayer, who used to work in the spinning section of Platinum Jute Mill, died at a hospital during the protest on January 1.
The protest progam has been invoked by Bangladesh State-Owned Jute Mill CBA-Non CBA Oikya Parishad on December 28, 2017.
Khalilur Rahman, former general secretary of Platinum Jute Mill’s Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA) told the Dhaka Tribune: “Sarder Abul Khayer went into retirement in last August and could not draw his post-retirement provident funds and gratuities.
“Lost in the battle with penury, Abul Khayer fell sick at one point and was admitted to Khulna Medical College Hospital on December 30 where he died a day later as his family could not afford the cost of his medication.”
Their 11-point demand includes: Declaration and implementation of wage commission similar to the pay commission, formation of a separate wage board for the workers of state-owned industries, reimbursement of the all the arrears of the workers and regular payment of the wages and salaries.
The eight mills, which have been suffering from production halt due to the workers’ protest, are: Crescent Jute Mill, Platinum Jute Mill, Khalishpur Jute Mill, Daulatpur Jute Mill, Star Jute Mill, Alim Jute Mill, Eastern Jute Mill and JJI Jute Mill.
Khalilur Rahman said: “The patience of the workers has reached its limit. It’s impossible to run wheels without having food.”
Meanwhile, five factories including Crescent, Star and Khalishpur have reimbursed only one wage installment and one month’s salary to their workers on Thursday. However, the workers of these factories are still reluctant to change their previous position.
CBA general secretary at Crescent Jute Mill Sohrab Hossain said the workers would not join the work until the full payment of their arrears.
He further said: “A meeting will be held with all the central committee leaders of Bangladesh State-Owned Jute Mill CBA and non-CBA Oikya Parishad in Dhaka on Sunday.”
“Call for a bigger protest may be initiated at the meeting,” he added.