Watchdog Asks Govt to Handle RMG Workers with Care
Friday, 25 June 2010

A parliamentary watchdog has urged the government to liberally handle the case against readymade garment workers who allegedly ransacked vehicles and carried out arson attacks in Ashulia on Monday.

The parliamentary standing committee on labour ministry at its meeting on Thursday, however, recommended taking legal actions against those workers 'directly responsible' for the arson attack and violence.

Israfil Alam, chairman of the committee, told reporters that the labour minister would sit with the leaders of the readymade garment units Sunday or Monday to settle the workers' dispute over minimum wage.

The government filed a case with Ashulia police on Wednesday against some 60,000 unnamed workers for Monday's violence.

The agitating workers took to the street in Ashulia on Monday to increase their minimum wage from Tk 1662.50 to at least Tk 5,000 per month.

"We have recommended the government that the workers who directly carried out arson attacks and damaged vehicles and other properties be brought to justice," Alam told reporters at the parliament's media centre.

Justifying the recommendation, the chairman said violent activities was against the spirit of trade unionism and rule of law.

"We have urged the law-enforcing agencies to deal with the case in a flexible way so that no innocent worker is victimised," said Alam, a labour leader-turned-MP.

The chairman said labour minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain had informed the standing committee that a fresh wage structure would be announced for the workers by July.

The government on April 28 formed a seven-member wage board headed by a former Hig Court judge to set minimum wage for the readymade garment workers.

The then government in 2006 formed the last wage board fixing the minimum monthly wage for workers at Tk 1,662.50.

The labour leaders of the country's highest export earning sector have been bargaining with the owners for wage hike in the wake of price spiral of essentials.


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