Hundreds of transport workers staged demonstrations demanding relief in Narsingdi and Tangail
Transport and mill workers from four districts protested for different reasons on Sunday as their lives were affected during the nationwide shutdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
Hundreds of transport workers staged demonstrations demanding relief in Narsingdi and Tangai,l while workers from two mills in Gaibandha and Dinajpur protested for outstanding dues.
In Narsingdi, hundreds of people–claiming to be transport workers–staged demonstrations, charging their leaders with misappropriation of their relief funds in Shibpur upazila.
The protest took place at Shibpur bus stand in the morning and was called off after police and the Upazila Nirbahi Officer assured them of meeting their demands.
Shafikul Islam, a protester at the strike, said: “We are unemployed and do not have food in our homes. Our leaders took signatures on paper, promising to pay usTk8,400 from government funds. We gathered here for the money, but now they are telling us to take rice at Tk10 per kg. Workers in Panchdona and Monohardi upazila have received the promised donations but we are the ones deprived.”
However, Safar Ali Bhuiyan, a transport workers’ leader and general secretary of Shibpur Workers Welfare Association, said: “Those who protested are not our workers. We help only registered workers.”
Shibpur model police station OC, Molla Azizur Rahman, said: “The incident occurred because of a misunderstanding between the leaders and the workers. We brought the situation under control.”
In Tangail, workers blocked the Bhuapur bus stand area preventing the movement of vehicles from morning to afternoon.
Transport workers said they were not issued any relief despite being unemployed for a long time.
Labhlu, a protesting bus driver, said they have undergone much hardship and have yet to receive any relief from the government.
Sharif, another protesting transport worker, said: “Almost every vehicle could operate in the shutdown, except buses. We should also receive relief assistance from the government.”
In Gaibandha, around 500 workers of Rangpur Sugar Mills Ltd staged demonstrations in front of their factory near Gobidaganj-Mohimaganj road, demanding their outstanding salaries of four months.
Among others, Abu Sufiyan, president of Rangpur Sugar Mills workers union, and Mostafizur Rahman, general secretary of the workers union, spoke during the protest.
During the hour-long protest, they also threatened a tougher movement if the authorities do not respond to their demand soon.
Rafiqul Islam, managing director of the sugar mill, said: “The mill has around a thousand workers. Their outstanding dues, payment for sugarcane farmers, and other expenses, requires Tk12 crore. We have sent a requisition letter to the government for the required funds, but the coronavirus outbreak has delayed the funds.”
In Dinajpur, the workers of Messrs Arnu Jute Mill staged demonstrations demanding their arrears, and the reopening of the mill in Hili.
The mill authorities closed the factory last month. Workers said they were assured of getting paid on Sunday.
Mill manager Mizanur Rahman said they failed to pay the workers as export of the mill’s products to India remained suspended due to the coronavirus shutdown.
“Around 800 workers were working at the mill and they will be paid after reopening of the mill this week,” he added.
Sub-inspector of Hakimpur Police Station said they brought the situation under control within an hour after discussions with the mill authorities.
Our correspondents Asaduzzaman Ripon, Narsingdi, Abdullah Al Numan, Tangail, Tazul Islam, Gaibandha, and Halim Al Raji, Hili, contributed to this report.