PM orders ‘fair price cards’ for RMG workersMustafizur Rahman
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday ordered the authorities concerned to issue ‘fair price cards’ to the readymade garment factory workers in industrial belts near Dhaka city to provide rice at a subsidised rate in an effort to curb labour unrest.
The prime minister’s directive was issued at a weekly meeting of the Cabinet in the wake of the week-long agitation by workers demanding pay hike, which led to closure of all RMG units in Ashulia industrial zone on the outskirts of the capital.
Sheikh Hasina also asked state minister for labour Monnujan Sufian, who was a labour leader, to hold talks with labour representatives to defuse the current crisis, which has hit hard the export-oriented apparel sector, said a state minister after the meeting.
Sufian, however, pointed out that it was difficult for the government to address the labour unrest, particularly in Ashulia and Narayanganj, as there was no leadership among the agitating workers in the absence of trade unionism in the RMG sector.
The prime minister also asked the ministries and agencies concerned to find out whether any quarters at home or abroad were hatching any conspiracy against
Bangladesh’s readymade garment sector that earns more than $20 billion annually for the country.
The Ashulia industrial zone, where the readymade garment factory workers demonstrated for a week demanding increase in wages, finally calmed down on Monday.
The workers went on demonstrations in Ashulia for the sixth day on Sunday, protesting the closure of factories and demanding pay hike. Factory owners on Saturday closed more than 300 apparel units at Ashulia amidst labour unrest.
‘We will initially appoint dealers in the labour-intensive area of Ashulia to provide garment factory workers there with rice at an affordable rate,’ food minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque told New Age.
He said workers holding the ‘fair price cards’ to be issued soon as per the directive of the prime minister, would be able to buy 20 kilograms of rice at Tk 24 a kg every month.
The minister said workers in other industrial zones, like Gazipur and Narayanganj, would also be provided with fair price cards in phases.
The government last year distributed around 70 lakh fair price cards for extending food support to the low-income groups across the country, said an official of the Food Division.
Although the government earlier offered food support to the garment factory owners, none of them showed any interest as it required managerial support from the owners to provide rice to the workers at the subsidised rate.
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