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One dies as jute mill workers continue hunger strike

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Jute mill workers seen continuing hunger strike for the third consecutive day to press for their 11-point demand in Khulna on Thursday, December 12, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

Over 100 hospitalized

A jute mill worker who along with his fellows had been on a fast unto death to press for an acceptance of their 11-point demand died at Khulna Medical College Hospital (KMCH) on Thursday.

More than 100 workers have been hospitalized as the state-owned jute mill workers in Khulna, Jessore, and Narsingdi continued their hunger strike for the third consecutive day.

Abdur Sattar, 58, a worker at Platinum Jute Mills, died around 6 pm, according to Dr. Abdullah Al Mamun, emergency medical officer of Khulna Medical College Hospital.

Humayun Kabir Khan, general secretary of Platinum Jute Mills Collective Bargaining Association (CBA), said Sattar was admitted to the hospital around 2pm as he fell sick after resorting to the hunger strike.

Meanwhile, Jessore Jute Industries (JJI) President Harunur Rashid said he along with CBA's general secretary had fallen sick as well.

“Five workers have been ill since last night,” said Zillur Rahman, president of CBA Sangram Parishad of Rajshahi Jute Mills.

Workers of 24 state-owned jute mills, out of the 26 which are under the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), began the strike on Tuesday afternoon. The workers, along with their dependants, have continued the strike under the banner of CBA-Non CBA Sangram Parishad.

All activities in the jute mills have come to a standstill due to the protests. Besides, traffic movement has been severely hindered with workers taking position near the main gate of UMC jute mill.

Workers' union leaders during the strike said that non-payment of wages had pushed them to a state of destitution. They had initiated their protest to press home their 11-point demand.

Their demands include implementation of the proposals of the National Wage Commission, payment of all weekly wages, adequate budgetary allocation for the jute sector and ensuring sale of jute products, payment of outstanding provident fund dues and gratuity to retired workers and settlement of insurance benefits for families of  deceased workers, recruitment of workers, regularization of temporary workers, reinstatement of sacked workers, and balancing, modernizing, rehabilitating, and expanding the jute mills for better productivity.