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Garments workers take to streets in Mirpur demanding pay hike, arrears

  • Published at 09:32 pm November 24th, 2021
rmg protest
RMG workers take to the streets in Mirpur demanding pay hike and arrears on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 Bangla Tribune

Entrepreneurs suspect that rumours could have instigated the demonstrations

Apparel workers blockaded roads in the different parts of the capital on Wednesday for arrears and demanded an increase in their wages due to skyrocketing prices of daily necessities.

However, the apparel manufacturers expressed apprehension about the repeated agitations laid out by the garment workers.

The workers first took up positions at the Mirpur 10 intersection at around 9 am, halting traffic movement in the process.

A clash took place between the protesting workers and locals in Mirpur 13 as well.

Also read - Women built Bangladesh’s RMG sector. Now, automation could leave them behind

Workers from Centex Garments, BMA Garments, Vision Garments, and some other factories blockaded the road.

Moreover, the workers of Way Mart Apparels Ltd have blocked roads in the Kuril area of the capital demanding arrears. 

Sajal, a worker of Centex Garments, said that they were protesting for their unpaid salaries and the factory owner hired some goons to attack them.

When word got around about the attack, workers of garment factories in Mirpur 13 and Mirpur 14 rushed out of their workplaces in groups.

To know details, the reporter could not reach Abu Wahed, chairman of Way Mart Apparels, and any officials from Centex Garments and BMA Garments despite calling repeatedly. 

Mirpur model police station OC Mostafizur Rahman said that the garment workers had taken up positions to voice their demands.

After being reassured, they left the blockade at around 1 pm, but most of them didn’t return to their workplace. 

What is behind the repeated agitations?

In the last few months, there have been several blockades in Gazipur, Mirpur and Kuril Bishwaroad areas.

The apparel manufacturers have expressed different fears about the repeated movement of the garment workers.

The apparel industry has just begun to turn around from the pandemic and Bangladesh is already getting a large number of purchase orders.

According to manufacturers, even a few weeks ago, there was a severe labour crisis in the industry and factories right after orders started coming in and they had to hire workers with adequate wages leaving the entrepreneurs of the sector puzzled as to why workers would be dissatisfied with the wages.

Shahidullah Azim, vice president of the BGMEA said that they are worried whether there is any domestic or foreign conspiracy. 

BGMEA now strictly monitors the wages, allowances and compliance etc.

“There are many factories of prominent business groups in the Mirpur area, with whom I’ve talked to. They said there is no problem with the wages here, but why did so many workers go on a blockade? They don’t know,” he added.

He also said that the government, media and all the concerned parties must be proactive in finding out whether any group or individual is inciting the workers.

Manufacturers also said that there will be problems in the industry and solutions will also be found. 

However, wage problems are more prevalent in small sub-contracting factories, which are not members of the BGMEA. 

Therefore, BGMEA cannot take any action against them, they also said.

Entrepreneurs suspect that rumours could have also worked here. A group spread rumours regarding a worker's death, for which many other factory workers blocked the roads.

If there is a problem with wages or allowance, the workers should find a solution in consultation with the BGMEA or concerned organizations. 

They should also deal with any rumours and conspiracies in the interest of the country and of themselves.

Salauddin Swapan, acting president of the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC), said that workers from some factories in Mirpur and Kuril blocked the road demanding their arrears of overtime allowance, wages.

“However, when the news of the clash spread, a large number of workers from other factories also joined. Most of the factories there were small sub-contract factories, some were also workers of direct exporter factories,” he added.

He also said that in order to solve this problem all the factories should be allowed to form unions and federations. 

“In this way, the workers will not be influenced by any outside rumours and will not be a part of any conspiracy,” he added.

Meanwhile, sources said that the workers of BMA Garments will start the movement again on Thursday, and will continue till their demands are met.

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