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Bangladesh businesses worried over violence
Publication Date : 23-09-2013
Bangladesh businesses have expressed concern over production suspension at garment factories due to labour unrest.
As workers yesterday continued agitations for a rise in minimum monthly salary to 8,114 taka (US$104) from 3,000 taka ($39) and vandalised garment units, owners from Ashulia and Savar sat at the BGMEA office and called upon the government to ensure security of their factories.
“We have met Labour and Employment Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju, and will meet other ministers concerned, seeking security of the factories,” said Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Ashulia zone RMG factory owners’ association.
“We fear that a massive labour unrest will take place if the situation is not immediately brought under control,” said Murshedy, also a former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
In a statement, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), the apex trade body, urged the government to take measures to bring back normalcy in the industry.
The unrest is taking place at a time when the country is trying to get back the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in the US market, the statement added.
The trade body says it supports a legitimate wage structure for the garment workers, as they are the key players in the sector.
Talking to The Daily Star, Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of the BGMEA, said the workers should wait until an independent wage board finalises the salary structures for them.
“Everybody should come forward to protect the garment sector,” Azim said. “Workers never vandalise factories. It is the outsiders who instigate the violence.”
If the ongoing unrest continues, many units would not be able to make shipment in time. As a result, the owners would face difficulty in paying the salaries and bonuses for the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha, he added.
Gazipur-based garment owners had already been facing trouble for low pressure of gas over the last one week, he said, adding that the latest spell of unrest would worsen their sufferings.
Yesterday, more than 100 people, including 20 police personnel, were injured as the RMG workers clashed with the law enforcers at Pagar under Tongi Police Station in Gazipur, our district correspondent reports.
The workers of Jabed & Jubayer Textiles and Hamid Garment Factory went on the rampage in and around the factories after the lunch break demanding a hike in their monthly salary, said Alamgir Hossain Gazi, sub-inspector of Tongi Police Station.
As police tried to resist them, he added, the workers threw brickbats on the law enforcers, leaving Officer-in-Charge Abul Kalam Azad and other police personnel injured.
Police fired several shots and teargas shells.
The situation, however, became normal after the agitating workers left the area around 4:30pm.
In another incident, the RMG workers went on work abstention, and staged demonstration in the district’s Kaliakair upazila in the morning for better pay.
More than 15,000 workers of different factories gathered on the Dhaka-Tangail highway around 9:30am, and vandalised 20 vehicles. Production at several garments units there was suspended.The agitating workers also vandalised six garment units in Chandra area.
Movement of traffic on the highway resumed around 11:30am after the law enforcers with the help of industrial police flushed out the agitating workers.
Garment workers also vandalised factories in Savar, Konabari, Kashimpur, Shafipur, Ashulia and Uttara recently.