Tuba workers threaten nationwide RMG strike on Saturday

10 injured in AL, police attacks

New Age Online

MAA_2899The hunger striking garment workers of Tuba Group Wednesday evening threatened to call strike at all apparel units across the country for Saturday if their dues were not paid by Thursday.
The workers, who are on hunger strike since July 28 at Badda in Dhaka demanding payment of their outstanding salaries of the month of May, June and July and festival bonus, also announced to stage a countrywide demonstration on Thursday and Friday to press home their demands, said labour leader Jolly Talukder.
The announcement was made through a loud speaker from the sixth floor of a factory housed at Hossain Market in Badda as they could not meet media due to restrictions of law enforcers.
They also dropped a press notes carrying the message singed by Mushrefa Mishu, president of Garment Sramik Oikya Forum, from the floor during the announcement.
Police did not allow the hunger striking workers to talk to press and they also barred a group of rights activists led by Khushi Kabir to enter the factory saying there were instructions from ‘high-level’ not to allow anyone to enter the factory.
In the afternoon, police and the activists of Shramik League, labour wing of ruling Awami League, allegedly beat up Dhaka University sociology teacher Samina Luthfa and an anthropologist Saydia Gulrukh as they tried to enter the factory to observe the humanitarian aid condition of agitating workers.
Ganasanghati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki, Prothom Alo assistant editor Faruk Wasif and labour leader Shabnam Hafiz also fell victim of attacks by ruling party activists and police.
Earlier, police locked up the factory building confining over 1,000 workers, who have been agitating in demand of their due wages and allowances, for almost six hours since the morning.
According to police deployed there, they entered the factory to clear out what they termed ‘outsiders’ who joined the workers observing a hunger strike.
Police also charged batons on activists of a left-leaning alliance and journalists when they tried to enter the factory, our correspondent reported from the site.
The workers said police had locked up the building and allowed none to go in or out but police claimed they were unaware who had locked up the four entrances of the factory.
The authority has stopped the supply of food and saline to the workers, who continue fast unto death for the 10th day and have fallen ill, said factory workers including Asma Khatun and Mizanur Rahman.
The confinement, attacks and stoppage of supply of saline came a day after the Tuba Group managing director, Delwar Hossain, was released on Tuesday evening on bail granted by the High Court.
No reporter or medical service provider was allowed to enter the building, while water cannon and riot car were standing outside the building.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Gulshan zone additional deputy commissioner Mahbub Hassan said, ‘We are not permitting anyone to enter the factory.’
Asked about the reason, he said, ‘We do not know.’
The Ganasnaghati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki, said that Awami League activists along with the police attacked their demonstration under police monitoring. They took away the banner and loudspeaker used in the demonstration and left many of the protesters injured.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Gulshan zone assistant commissioner Nurul Alam, however, claimed that the clashes took place between two groups of the workers.
Announcement was heard through a loudspeaker outside the apparel factory asking the workers to go Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association headquarters at Karwanbazar to receive their wages for two months. Three buses were standing outside the building to take the workers to the association building.
No reporter or medical service provider was allowed to enter the building, while water cannon and riot car were standing outside the building.
Additional deputy commissioner Mahbub Hassan said that they brought out ‘illegal workers’ from the building.
The factory’s supervisor Liton Mia, who was also brought out of the building by the police, said that the police forced them to get out.
He said that the police were trying to force them to go to the owners’ association confining the workers and to accept wages for two months, while they were pressing for payment of all arrears including wages for three months and festival allowance at a time.
The owners’ association started distributing wages for two months among the Tuba Group apparel workers from the association office at about 11.00am, association leaders said.
Only thirty-four members among the officials, security parsons and workers of Tuba Group received the wages till 1:00pm, association sources said.
At least 1,200 workers from five factories under the Tuba Group — Tuba Textile, Tuba Fashion, Mita Design, Taif Design and Bughsan Garments — have been on fast unto death for 10 days at Hossain Market in the capital’s Badda area, demanding the payment of arrear wages for May, June and July along with overtime bills and festival allowance, which amount to Tk 4.14 crore.
(second update)

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