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Workers stop traffic in Chittagong over pay PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 07 May 2008

HTML clipboardTraffic on the road from Bahaddarhat to Kalurghat in the port city screeched to a halt for six hours Tuesday as the garment workers at Kalurghat BSCIC industrial district blockaded the streets over pay hike, reports bdnews24.com.

Aggrieved garments workers yesterday attacked a number of garments factories including Marks Fashion at Chandgaon area over arrear salary and pay rise in Chittagong. The rampaging workers vandalised vehicles before withdrawing following discussion with the officials of the Department of Labour, leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the administration.

The workers of Orchid Sweater Factory of Azim Group in BSCIC industrial area in Chandgaon stayed off work Monday demanding a rise in wage and they were joined by the workers of Global Knitwear and Savar Knitwear of the group.

The management and the workers' representatives met in the afternoon that day to thrash out a solution but could not reach a decision. The agitated workers, however, continued with the work abstention in the industrial area Tuesday and several thousand workers came out on the streets at about 9am.

They damaged some vehicles and shops during the blockade, halting traffic on five-kilometre road from Bahaddarhat to Kalurghat.

A workers' leader told bdnews24.com: "A meeting was scheduled for the morning but when the workers came to the factory they found that three factories of Azim Group have been declared closed for indefinite period.

Then the workers took to the street." Anwar Hossain, a worker of Global Knitwear, alleged that the management was supposed to give them 'piece rate' at Tk 40 and tiffin bill at Tk 12. But, he alleged, it would give them Tk 24 and Tk 6 only.

"We resorted to agitation Monday to realize our just demands," he said. Officer-in-charge of Panchlaish Police Station Anisur Rahman Khan told bdnews24.com: "The management was scheduled to hold a discussion with workers over their demands in the morning. But as the meeting did not take place, the workers of three factories of Azim Group took to the streets.

"Workers of the other factories in Kalurghat BSCIC industrial area joined them later," the OC said. Assistant commissioner of Chittagong Metropolitan Police Mesbah Uddin said, "The workers got agitated seeing the notice of factory closure and came down to the streets." RAB and police were deployed in the area to keep order when the workers blockaded the road.

BGMEA leaders and administration officials also came to the scene. "Six platoons of police and armed police have been deployed there," Mesbah Uddin said. At about 1pm, Abdul Khaleque of the Labour Department, BGMEA vice president M Mohiuddin Chowdhury and Azim Group director Nawshah Ahmed spoke to the workers and sat a meeting that ended at 2pm.

The owners agreed to accept some demands of the workers, who in turn withdrew the blockade at about 3pm. Traffic on the key road resumed immediately but the blockade left huge traffic snarls behind.

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