Dhaka – The workers of Bangladesh’s state-run jute mills have called a strike at their workplaces in the capital Dhaka, the port city of Chittagong and the southwestern city of Khulna to demand payment of arrears wage.
They also announced three hours blockade of road and railways in different places to draw attention of the government to realize their demands. The blockade will continue from 4 pm to 7 pm every day, said Murad Hossain, a leader of the Jute Mill Workers League.
The workers demands included payment of salaries and allowances, implementation of wage commission and sufficient fund allocation for jute sector among others.
The jute mill workers say that many of them had to literally starve since they were not disbursed wages for six to 11 weeks. The employees of the mills are not getting salary for four months, they said.
Twenty-six state-owned jute mills under Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation employ more than 33,000 workers, of whom 14,525 are permanent. But the trade union leaders say the number of workers, permanent and temporary altogether, is nearly 80,000.
The complication began after the government announced a new wage scale for the workers. But the authorities could not implement the new wage regulation approved in 2015.
The jute ministry could not manage the fund to disburse the wages under new scale. “It will be difficult to implement the new wage scale unless the government provide us with the fund,” Jute Secretary Mizanur Rahman said.
State Minister of Labour Monnujan Sufian said that initiatives would be taken to pay workers’ dues within next week.
A joint meeting of the Ministry of Jute and Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation earlier had decided to clear the outstanding wages by April 25. But the decision could not be implemented prompting the workers to begin the agitation afresh.