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RMG workers block Airport road, Gazipur and Savar for a second day

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Garment workers, demanding a pay rise, block the Uttara road in Dhaka on Monday, January 7, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

At least 14 people including members of law enforcement agency were injured in a clash when garment workers began protesting in Signboard area of Gazipur on Monday morning

Garment workers blocked the Airport road in Uttara's Abdullahpur area for a second day yesterday demanding a pay rise in accordance to the new wage structure. 

They were joined on Monday by workers in Savar as well. 

Meanwhile, at least 14 people including members of law enforcement agency were injured in a clash when garment workers began protesting in Signboard area of Gazipur on Monday morning.

In Uttara, the protesters torched a bus and vandalized some vehicles.

The apparel workers demanded a minimum wage of Tk16,000 with Tk10,000 as basic salary. Some of their other demands include - workers cannot be sacked by factory owners at any time without proper reason; and around 51% salary boost for the older employees who had been working as helpers in the factories.

Kazi Ruhul Amin, general secretary of the Garment Workers' Trade Union Centre told the Dhaka Tribune: “In the new wage structure, monthly wages for grade 7 – an operator level worker, has been increased by 51% to Tk8000 from Tk5,300. But, a senior operator working for several years is being paid Tk8,000, which is a discrimination.”   

“This is why, the workers are protesting, demanding the removal of this discriminatory policy and to be paid as per the wage board declaration,” said Ruhul.  

He claimed that the wage did not increase proportionately in all the grades, which needs to be revised to bring parity among the grades.  

A bus set on fire during the blockade of Uttara road  in Dhaka by garment workers on January 7, 2019 | Dhaka Tribune

The protests caused a huge traffic jam with massive tailbacks on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway.

Earlier on Sunday, garment workers had blocked the Airport road. They had only withdrawn their protest five hours later after being assured by concerned garments' owners that they would provide a solution to their problems. 

Uttara protests 

Eye witnesses said garment workers of different factories including Chaity and Shanta garments in Uttara came out on to the Uttara road around 9:30am on Monday. 

Police then barred the workers from blocking the road.

Also Read- RMG workers block Airport road again, demand pay rise

A chase-counter-chase ensued. Police shot tear gas shells, witnesses said.

The garment workers were then forced to disperse. Later, they re-organized themselves and started a protest, blocking the main road in the Abdullahpur area around 11:20am.

A bus was also set on fire in protest by the apparel workers around 1:20pm. 

Airport police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Nure Azam Miah, confirming the torching of the bus, said: "The garment workers are still blocking the road, causing the Fire service to be stuck in traffic."

14 injured in Gazipur 

At least 14 people including members of members of law enforcement agency got injured in a clash in Signboard area of Gazipur on Monday morning.

Rafiqul Islam, an Inspector of Gazipur Industrial Police, said some workers from East-West Industry Group Ltd blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway in the morning demanding a salary raise.

Industrial Police, equipped with batons and a water cannon, advancing to break an agitation of garment workers in Savar's Hemayetpur Tannery Road on January 7, 2019 | Dhaka Tribune

“When police went to the spot, a clash broke out where 14 people including four police were injured,” said the inspector. 

East-West Industry Group Managing Director Shamim told the Dhaka Tribune they compensate their workers properly and also provide them with other facilities. 

provide the salaries and other facilities to the workers regularly.

Savar Protests

More than a hundred workers of the TCL 2 and Standard Group factories demonstrated against discrimination within the newly-formed wage structure by blocking the Hemayetpur Tannery Road.

According to the workers of these two garment factories, they had informed the factory owners about the discrimination in the wage structure, but the factory administration did not address the situation.

Also Read- Police disperses garment workers’ demonstration in Savar

Instead, the factory owners called the police to beat up some of the factory workers around 2pm on Sunday.

Responding to this, yesterday morning, the workers decided not to work at the factories and started protesting in front of their respective factory main gates.

Industrial police arrived at the scene and initially tried to convince the workers to call off their protest.

However, the agitated garment workers did not comply with the police’s request.

Dhaka1 Ashulia Industrial Police Superintendent Sana Shaminur Rahman said: "The workers were blocking the road. We had to intervene and disperse them in order to keep the traffic flow normal. We have deployed additional police forces in front of the factory gates avoid further untoward and unpleasant situations."

Additional reporting done by Ibrahim Hossain Ovi