RMG factories re-openOur Correspondent . Savar
Garment factory workers on Thursday morning rejoined work amidst heavy security in Ashulia industrial zone as the owners re-opened their readymade garment units after a four-day closure in the wake of a weeklong labour unrest.
Many workers, however, remained absent on the
first day with an eerie calm prevailing in the workers’ neighbourhoods at Ashulia in Savar. Workers said that a large number of workers had already left for their homes, fearing arrest and also being uncertain about the re-opening of factories.
The officer-in-charge of Ashulia thana, Badrul Alam, said the workers joined work peacefully and no incident of ‘anarchy’ has taken place there since the morning.
Around 350 garment factories remained closed for four days from Saturday amidst demonstrations by workers for an increase in their wages, raising concern for the apparel sector that earns the country more than $20 billion a year.
Thousands of RMG factory workers in the industrial belt on the outskirt of Dhaka city took to the streets on June 11, demanding immediate pay-hike, and fought pitched battles with the police during their demonstrations.
Police officials said that at least five cases were filed with Ashulia thana, accusing at least 12,000 unnamed workers for fomenting the workers’ unrest in the RMG belt, which has over five lakh workers.
Deputy director of the Industrial Police, Fayezul Kabir, said that less than 20 per cent of the total workers had left Ashulia during the unrest.
‘Many of these workers who left Ashulia will be returning within a day or two,’ Foyezul Kabir told New Age.
He said that law enforcers were kept on high alert and additional police were deployed in the troubled area.
BGMEA president Safiul Islam Mohiuddin, after a meeting with finance minister AMA Muhith, said that all but one factory resumed operation on Thursday.
‘The workers did not join work even though that factory — Rose Dresses Ltd at Jamgarha — was opened. Discussions were going on with the owners to solve the problem,’ he mentioned
In the face of violent protests spreading all over the Ashulia garment belt, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the two apex bodies of garment exporters, shut down the factories for an indefinite period.
RMG factory owners, at a meeting with the government on Wednesday, agreed to re-open their units at Ashulia on Thursday after being assured of adequate security measures in the industrial zone.
The government also asked the workers to join work and told them that steps would be taken to resolve the crisis that had hit hard the export-oriented sector.
Labour minister Khandker Mosharraf on Wednesday said the government would address the demands after getting a written charter from the workers. Tripartite meetings would be held soon to reach a peaceful solution, he added.
The labour leaders, however, said that the decision of re-opening the factories would not be meaningful if the workers’ demands for a pay-hike and payment of Dearness Allowance were not met.
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