Jute mill workers continue strike for wage

Special Correspondent
The demonstration of state-run jute mill workers continued for the fourth straight day demanding arrears and implement of wage commission.
On Thursday, thousands of workers of Latif Bawani Jute Mill and Karim Jute Mill put barricade on roads there, halting traffic movement in Demra Staff Quarters area and adjacent areas. They also protested in the previous three days, putting barricade on the roads in the area to realize their demands.
Due to the road blockade of the workers, traffic movement in the area was completely stopped, causing sufferings to the commuters.
While talking to jute mill workers, they said workers remained unpaid wages for about nine weeks. As a result, family members of the worker have been starving for last few weeks.
So, the country’s jute mill workers had to take the streets, by putting blockade on road and halting rail communications in different areas of the country from last month to press home their nine-point demand.
However, the demands are—paying due salaries and allowances, implementation of the wage commission, sufficient fund allocation for jute sector, reappointing the sacked workers, making the appointments permanent etc
Earlier on Wednesday (May 8), workers of state-run jute mills have called a strike for indefinite period from Monday (May 13), vowing to press home their longstanding demands.
The workers are set to block the roads and railways from 4pm to 7pm each day of the strike.
Indefinite strike from May 14
The ongoing protest waged by workers of all state-run jute mills has taken a serious turn as they have decided on an indefinite strike from May 14, demanding immediate salary payment and wages in arrears. 
At a meeting in Dhaka on Wednesday, leaders of all Collective Bargaining Agents (CBA) and non-CBA units of the 22 state-run jute mills and three other jute product manufacturing factories, decided to simultaneously abstain from work starting May 14.
Following the meeting at the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) offices in Karwan Bazar, Arifur Rahman, publicity secretary of Patkal Sramik League, a pro-government platform of jute mill workers, announced the strike programme. “Right now we have stopped production at nine mills in Khulna and two others in Dhaka. But we are all set to wage an even bigger protest by going on strike at the rest of the mills from May 14,” he told the media.
Interestingly, jute mill workers in Khulna and Dhaka have stayed away from work on their own without being asked by the CBA or any other entity. “But this time, the strike is going to take place in a coordinated manner at all the mills,” he said. According to the agitated workers, the state-owned mills owe them wages for the last three months, and weekly hires are owed 11 weeks of wages in arrears.
They also demanded that the BJMC pay the money in compliance with the National Wage and Productivity Commission-2015.
When contacted, BJMC Chairman Shah Mohammad Nasim said the situation may improve soon after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returns home from the UK on May 10. 
“There is always a notion among jute mill leaders that mill authorities do not care about workers. But the authorities concerned are always focused on resolving their issues,” he said.
“We have already contacted the finance division through the Ministry of Textiles and Jute, to allot the money needed to pay the arrears,” he said, adding that the arrears will be paid in line with the 2010 pay structure.
On Tuesday, the parliamentary standing committee on labour and employment asked the Labour and Employment Ministry to take necessary measures to give out wage slips to state-run jute mill workers, starting May 18. The committee also ordered fixing their wages by May 17.

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