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State-owned jute mills start production after 16 days

  • Published at 10:43 am May 22nd, 2019
Jute mill workers
File Photo: Jute mill workers, wielding wooden and bamboo sticks, protest blocking a road in Demra, Dhaka Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Jute mill workers have been protesting to press home their nine-point demand

Workers of the state-owned jute mills in Khulna have suspended their strike for a week and gone back to work, resulting in jute production restarting in the mills after 16 consecutive days.

They went back to work around 6am on Wednesday. They came to this decision after holding a meeting with Khulna Deputy Commissioner Md Helal Hossain the previous night, on three conditions.

The conditions were: the wage commission of jute mill workers doing emergency work should be implemented by May 22; workers must be paid their two weeks of owing wages within the current week; and all wages in arrears must be cleared by the next week – confirmed Md Murad Hossain, Khulna-Jessore regional committee convenor of Bangladesh Jute Mills Workers League.

Khulna Deputy Commissioner Md Helal Hossain said: “The Tk60 crore owed wages of workers will be sent directly to their bank accounts.”

Platinum Jute Mill CBA President Shahana Sharmin said workers of Platinum Jute Mill had joined work since 7pm on Tuesday after iftar, while workers of other mills went to work from 6am on Wednesday.

Why are jute mill workers protesting?

Jute mill workers have been protesting since March 13 to press home their nine-point demand, which includes: their salaries and allowances be paid, the wage commission be implemented, sufficient funds be allocated for the jute sector, sacked workers be reappointed and appointments be made permanent.

The workers' wages have been due for the past 11 weeks, while salaries of other employees' are four months overdue.

On April 15, the Jute Mills Workers League called for a four-hour road and railway blockade program and a 96-hour strike to press home their nine-point demand, which includes clearing the payment of outstanding wages for all jute mill workers.

The Jute Mills Workers League, CBA and non-CBA leaders had a meeting with the State Minister for Labour and Employment Monnujan Sufian.

At the meeting, the participants agreed that 10 weeks’ wages and three months’ salaries of all the mill workers would be paid by April 25. 

When Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) failed to pay the dues by April 25, workers of 26 state-owned jute mills became agitated.

The state minister met the workers’ leaders and asked for a week to resolve the matter. However, the promise was not fulfilled, prompting the workers to take to the streets again.

On May 7, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and Employment asked the Labour and Employment Ministry to take necessary measures to give out wage slips to the mill workers from May 18. The committee also ordered that their wages be fixed by May 17.

Jute mill workers postponed their strike on Tuesday after a tripartite meeting as the BJMC assured them that outstanding dues will be paid before Eid-ul-Fitr, and they would implement the wage commission and other demands of the workers in phases.

Dues of two weeks will be paid this week, and the rest in the next week, the workers were told.