Tuba Group workers kept confined

Police, ruling party men swoop on labour leaders, rights activists

MH Maswood and Moinul Haque
Police on Wednesday attack anthropologist Saydia Gulrukh and Dhaka University teacher Samina Luthfa as they went to see the Tuba Group workers, who are on hunger strike since July 28 at Badda in Dhaka, as the workers remained confined there since morning. — Indrajit Ghosh

Police on Wednesday attack anthropologist Saydia Gulrukh and Dhaka University teacher Samina Luthfa as they went to see the Tuba Group workers, who are on hunger strike since July 28 at Badda in Dhaka, as the workers remained confined there since morning. — Indrajit Ghosh

The police confined and locked up agitating Tuba garment workers inside a factory building at Badda since Wednesday morning for demanding arrear wages for three months, festival allowance and overtime bills.
Supply of water and saline for the Tuba Group workers on hunger strike was also stopped by the police since the morning.
At least 20 labour leaders and right activists were injured in repeated attacks by the police with assistance from ruling party goons.
The labour leaders and the right activists had gathered there to express their solidarity with the workers confined inside the Tuba Group factory.
No medical service provider or reporter  was allowed to enter the factory building from which  some 40 workers were allowed to leave one by one throughout the day as they fell sick getting no food, water or saline.
On July 28, at least 1,200 workers of five apparel factories of Tuba Group began hunger strike demanding arrear wages for May, June and July, overtime bills and festival bonus.
They rejected Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s offer to pay the arrear wages of two months and vowed to continue the agitations.
The workers called strike in all industrial areas for Saturday unless all the arrear dues are paid by today.
They would hold demonstrations in all industrial areas on Thursday and Friday.
Tuba Textile, Tuba Fashion, Mita Design, Taif Design and Bhushan Garments of the Tuba Group defaulted the payments since June.
Only about 350 out of 1,458 workers and staff of the Tuba Group took two months’ wages from BGMEA on Wednesday.
Gana Sanghati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki, Dhaka University sociology teacher Samina Luthfa, anthropologist Saydia Gulrukh, daily Prothom Alo assistant editor Faruk Wasif, labour leader Shabnam Hafiz, freelance photographer Kamrul Hasan, Biplabi Workers Party general secretary Saiful Haque, labour leaders Kalyan Dutta and Riku Roy and Abdus Satter, a worker’s father were among the persons injured in attacks by the police and ruling Awami League activists.
Police detained for six hours nine activists and trade union leaders including Dhaka University Professor of Sociology Samina Luthfa, anthropologist Saydia Gulrukh, Garment Workers Union president Shabnam Hafiz, freelance photographer Quamr Ul Hasan and Garment Sramik Front leader Salim Mahmud.
Later all except Shabnam Hafiz and Quamr Ul Hasan were set free.
The confinement of the workers, the attacks and water and saline supply stoppage took place a day after the Tuba Group managing director Delwar Hossain was released Tuesday evening on bail granted by the High Court.
Workers inside the building said the police locked up the factory building in the morning confining over 1,000 workers, who have been agitating for arrear wages and allowances.
Apparel worker Asma Khatun who came out of the building after falling sick told New Age, ‘The authorities stopped supply of food, water and saline.’
Dhaka Metropolitan Police additional deputy commissioner for Gulshan Zone Mahbub Hassan said, ‘We are not allowing anyone to enter the factory.’
Ruling Awami League activists and the police attacked a demonstration by left leaning workers.
Zonayed Saki alleged that AL activists along with the police attacked their demonstration.
At about 12 noon, the police entered the factory to throw out what they described as ‘outsiders’ who joined the workers’ hunger strike.
Tuba Fashion’s sewing supervisor Liton Mia, who was also ousted from the building by the police, said that the police threw them  out.
He said that the police forced them to go to BGMEA building to accept two months’  wages.
The police and ruling party activists attacked and injured Gana Sanghati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki when he along with 20 others went to the area at about 1.30 PM.
At about 5.15 PM, right activists led by Khushi Kabir were denied entry to the factory by the police.
Khushi Kabir said that they had gone to see the plight of the workers.
Police told them they were denied entry on instructions from the authorities.
Repeated announcements were made on the  public announcement system outside the apparel factory asking the workers to go BGMEA office at Karwanbazar to receive their wages for two months.
Three buses were kept standby outside the factory building to carry the workers to the BGMEA office to collect two months’  wages.
Water cannon and riot car guarded the factory throughout the day.
BGMEA extended the arrears’ payment time until Thursday evening.
BGMEA alleged that the workers want to receive the wages but a quarter made them hostage and seized their identity cards.
In the face of unrelenting demonstrations by Tuba Group workers demanding three months’ outstanding wages and festival allowance, BGMEA and the government on Sunday announced that the wages for May and June would be paid by BGMEA on Wednesday.
BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam said that BGMEA arranged the payments on humanitarian ground by collecting money from other member companies and Tuba Group would later refund it.
A group of leading citizens including academics and politicians held a token hunger strike at the Central Shaheed Minar to express their solidarity with the Tuba Group workers.
They expressed their anguish over the government’s repressive action to quell the agitations without taking measures to fulfill  the workers’ just demands.

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