Over 100 injured as RMG unrest flares at AshuliaRashad Ahamad . Savar
Police fired rubber bullets and used water cannons to disperse hundreds of garment workers staging violent demonstrations for wage increase at Ashulia in Savar for the third consecutive day on Wednesday.
Over a hundred people were injured as the workers fought running battles with police and vandalised over a dozen vehicles forcing suspension of traffic on the Dhaka-Tangail highway for about four hours.
Almost one third of the 350 factories at Narasinghapur, Jamgara, Baipail, Jirabo, Pukurpar, Nishchintapur and Banglabazar at Ashulia, the garment hub on the outskirts of the capital, remained inoperative after thousands of workers joined the demonstrations.
On Sunday and Monday, production in nearly 100 factories remained suspended.
The agitating workers set spent tyres and logs on fire on the highway and staged demonstrations that continued until the police and Rapid Action Battalion cleared the way after midday.
The trouble began in the morning at the Artistic Design Ltd, a sister concern of Hameem Group, owned by FBCCI president AK Azad.
The police said that the situation turned for the worse on the third day of labour unrest at Ashulia.
‘We fired several hundred rubber bullets and tear gas shells to calm the situation,’ said Fayezul Kabir, deputy director of industrial police.
The injured workers included Abeda Akter, Hashi Khatun, Mita, Hasna Banu, Khushi, Badrul Islam, Nadia, Saidur Rahman, Rabiul Islam and Saiful Islam.
They were admitted to different clinics and hospitals at Ashulia and Savar.
The protesters dispersed after being assured of the prime minister’s intervention into the matter, Ashulia police officer-in-charge Badiul Alam told New Age.
Aminul Islam, a worker of Sharmeen Group, told New Age they wanted minimum wage needed for survival. ‘We will not return to work until there is an announcement of pay increase,’ he said.
Mohammad Ali Mandal, an officer of Hameem Group, said the trouble had begun at the Artistic Design Ltd, a subsidiary of the group, on Monday and spread to others factories demanding wage increase.
The factory of Artistic Design remained closed since the labour unrest flared.
On Tuesday, a tripartite meeting of factory owners and government and workers’ representatives urged the workers to return to work. Labour minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain chaired the meeting at the secretariat.
The Centre for Policy Dialogue executive director, Mustafizur Rahman, said the demand for pay hike by the workers was not illogical.
The purchasing power of garment workers has dipped to its lowest because of high inflation, he said.
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