• Tuesday, Jan 26, 2021
  • Last Update : 09:11 am

Khulna witnesses closure of 7 privately-run jute mills

  • Published at 07:42 pm December 1st, 2020
Jute-private-mill-closure
The front gate of one of the closed privately run jute mills in Khulna. Increased cost of manufacturing, severe raw material shortage and a steep decline in demand were a few reasons mentioned for the closure. | Dhaka Tribune

Since the mill had turned into a loss-making venture, the laborers and other employees of the mill had been laid off as per labor law norms

Seven jute mills in the private sector have been declared shut, throwing thousands of workers and employees out of work in the Khulna region in recent years. 

The secretary of the Khulna division-based Bangladesh Sramik Kalyan Federation, Khan Golam Rasul, said 15,000 workers of the seven jute mills, out of 35, were in dire financial straits as they had no jobs to care for their families.

More than 2,000 workers and other employees of a private jute mill, Mohsin Jute Mills, located at Shiromoni industrial belt in Khulna district, are jobless as the mill shut down on 17 July 2014.

Increased cost of manufacturing, severe raw material shortage and a steep decline in demand for its goods in the global market were a few reasons mentioned by the mill's General Manager, Anwarul Mumin, in the layoff notice, for shutting the mill.

Since the mill had turned into a loss-making venture, the laborers and other employees of the mill had been laid off as per labor law norms, said Mumin.

In the meantime, hundreds of laborers gathered around the mill protesting against the shut down and layoff.

The president of the mill CBA, Sultan Molla, has accused the mill management of deliberately creating a financial crisis in the mill. According to Molla, the management has, till now, taken Tk 27 million as loan from Sonali Bank, just about two months back for buying raw jute.

Molla further alleged that the mill had been shut down in a pre-planned manner and raw jute was never purchased.

More stringent agitations demanding the reopening of the mill, including road and rail blocks, indefinite strike in all jute mills across the Khulna-Jessore industrial belt, fast-unto-death and self-immolation are ways in which Molla said agitations would continue.

Khan Golam Rasul, Secretary, Khulna division-based Bangladesh Sramik Kalyan Federation, said that the government had displayed its double standards in resolving the problems of the Khulna-Jessore industrial belt.

Workers of the jute mill demanded arrears and staged a protest in this regard by blocking the Khulna-Jessore Highway in Khulna's Shiromoni area recently.

Speakers at the protest demanded that a notice is issued through the district's deputy commissioner, promising that arrears would be cleared to the workers of Mohsen Jute Mills.

The speakers threatened a tougher movement if their demand was not met.

Md Ashab Uddin, one of the mill workers and a freedom fighter said: "The mill owner proposed a discussion with the protesters and so-called CBA leaders (supporters of the mill owner) to resolve the matter. But we wouldn't sit in a meeting without the district's deputy commissioner, as it could be part of a conspiracy.”

"Besides, if steps are not taken to clear our dues, we will go for tougher movement next Friday," Ashab added.

Meanwhile, seven jute mills, including Tranweson Fibre,  Sonali, Ezax, Spinners and Afil Jute Mills, have pulled down their shutters, throwing at least 15,000 laborers and other employees out of work.

Ezax Jute mill shut down in 2014, Afil and Spinners in 2017 and Sonali Jute mill were declared closed in November 2000. 

The workers of the jute mills have declared several kinds of programs for the next few days demanding their due payment and the reopening of the mills.

Meanwhile, the government shut down 25 state-owned jute mills under the Bangladesh Jute Mill Corporation (BJMC) this year, leaving 25,000 workers jobless. 

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