• Friday, Jul 10, 2020
  • Last Update : 05:04 pm

Golden Handshake: State-run jute mill workers call off protest, resume production in Khulna

  • Published at 07:46 pm June 30th, 2020
Khulna Jute Mill Workers
Jute mill workers pose for a photo after they resumed production at Khalishpur Jute Mill in Khulna on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 Dhaka Tribune

State-owned jute mill workers in other districts are either showing mixed reactions or still thinking about the government proposal

Jute mill workers on Tuesday suspended their protest against the government’s decision to shut down all state-run jute mills and resumed production at their respective workplaces.

The protesting workers were swayed after receiving assurances from officials of National Security Intelligence, who had arrived from Dhaka on Tuesday afternoon and acknowledged their demands.

Bangladesh state-owned jute mills CBA, Non-CBA Sangram Parishad Convener Sardar Abdul Hamid confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune.

He said: “A team of NSI officials from Dhaka met with the state-owned jute mill workers at NSI’s Khulna office. At the meeting, the workers expressed their dissatisfaction with the government announcement on a golden handshake or voluntary retirement, as it comes at a time when all lives depending on the jute industry are struggling to survive during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Finding the workers’ objections justified, NSI officials assured them that the matter would be referred to the ministry concerned on their behalf and advised them to return to their workplaces.”

The workers, satisfied by the NSI officials’ assurances, returned to work at 8pm on Tuesday, he added.  

Earlier in the day, jute mill workers observed a sit-in program in front of their respective jute mills and vowed to continue the sit-in till July 1. They threatened to go on hunger strike if their demands were not met by then.

Meanwhile, state-owned jute mills workers in other districts were still indecisive on whether to protest or accept the proposed terms. The workers have been showing mixed reactions about the government announcement on the golden handshake or voluntary retirement.

In Chittagong, workers with longer service in the jute sector, have accepted the golden handshake without objection, while workers with a shorter service span have expressed their resentment at the government decision.

Md Kamal Uddin, office secretary of Amin Jute Mill CBA, told Dhaka Tribune that as of Tuesday, the workers of state-owned jute mills in Chittagong had not launched any program in protest against the government decision.

Arifur Rahman, president of Amin Jute Mill CBA Council, said that the workers of state-owned jute mills in Chittagong had expressed mixed reactions over the early retirement decision.

“Some are happy while others are not. The labour leaders naturally act upon the decision of the workers. This time the labour leaders are not facing any pressure from the workers to go for any tougher program to protest the government decision,” said the CBA leader.

In Jessore, state-owned jute mill workers protested from 2pm till 5pm on Tuesday and workers’ union leaders have said they will counsel with the workers to decide on further protests. 

On the other hand, while talking to Dhaka Tribune, state-owned jute mill workers’ union leaders in Narsingdi, Rajshahi and Sirajganj have said they are yet to decide whether to protest or accept the government proposal and thus did not observe any program on Tuesday.

Shafik Molla, CBA Council President of UMC Jute Mill in Narsingdi, said: “We have not observed any demonstration today [Tuesday], and we are considering our workers’ decision and the decision of the central workers’ union body in Khulna before announcing any program.

Earlier on Sunday, the government announced its decision to send 25,000 workers of state-owned jute mills into early voluntary retirement in a bid to curb losses incurred over the years.

Textiles and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi made the announcement at a virtual press briefing.

The workers will be sent into retirement through the golden handshake scheme, the provision in an employment agreement that states that the employer will provide a significant severance package if the employee is laid off.

Our correspondents Hedait Hossain Molla, Khulna, Tauhid-Uz-Zaman, Jessore, Asaduzzaman Ripon, Narsingdi, Dulal Abdullah, Rajshahi, Aminul Islam Khan Rana, Sirajganj,  and Anwar Hussain, Chittagong have contributed to this report

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