• Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019
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RMG workers’ demo: Instigators identified, govt to take action

  • Published at 01:37 pm February 1st, 2019
WEB_RMG workers demo_road accident_Malibagh_01.01.2019.jpg
An angry RMG worker attacks a passenger bus of Suprabhat Paribahan in Malibagh, Dhaka on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

Sources at the Home Ministry confirmed the matter on Friday

Law enforcement has identified the culprits who instigated RMG workers to carry out violent demonstrations over various demands including a wage hike in recent months.

The government has directed several intelligence and law enforcement agencies to take legal action against those who provoked workers into engaging in anarchy, vandalism, destruction of factory equipment, and vehicles in the name of protest.

Sources from the Home Ministry confirmed the matter on Friday.

Addressing the matter, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said: “A certain quarter infiltrated the RMG workers’ movement and instigated anarchy. 

“These culprits, supported by a certain political party, conspired to damage the RMG sector, which is one of the largest export sectors in the country. Law enforcement has identified these culprits, and action will be taken against them soon.”

An additional secretary of the Home Ministry, on condition of anonymity said: “We cannot disclose the names and identities of those who instigated violence under the guise of the RMG workers’ movement, due to strategic reasons.

“They have been identified by law enforcement, and are currently under surveillance.”

Who are the instigators?

According to sources, who prefer to remain anonymous, several workers’ leaders involved in the violent protest have been identified as grassroots leaders and activists of various political parties. 

Those instigators reportedly attempted to sow anarchy and tarnish the government’s image. 

Sources added that cases have been filed against unidentified individuals on charges of damaging public property, obstruction of government work, and disrupting the day-to-day lives of the public.

The suspects might be arrested, and the registration of the organizations they belong to might be cancelled.

On several occasions, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi and State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian said the workers’ movement has been infiltrated by a certain quarter. 

The ministers also pointed out that no worker would willingly damage their livelihood in the name of a movement.

Responding to query, Labor and Employment Ministry Secretary Afroza Khan said: “There is no reason to believe that workers engaged in a violent demonstration demanding a wage hike. Factories that have a fair wage structure were also vandalized.”

What did the workers want?

The garment workers claim the monthly wage was hiked to Tk8,000 from Tk5,300 for the seventh grade—in line with the gazette the government published last year—and the new structure has been effective from December 1; however, wages of the workers in other grades did not go up at the same rate.

The entry-level workers’ salary hike was more than that of their seniors, who have been working for more than seven years. 

The major difference in the salary hike was also apparent in the third and fourth grades as their salaries did not increase like that of the entry-level workers, claimed the disgruntled workers.

In all grades, except seventh, there was only a Tk500 raise in the new pay structure, while an entry-level worker's wage increased by Tk2,700 at one go.

Some officials concerned suspect that a certain quarter attempted to use the workers’ movement to discredit the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led government following the 11th general election.