Garment workers in Savar staged a demonstration demanding arrears which resulted in a clash with the police this morning (12 August).
Workers of Pride Group's HR Textile Mills Limited, located in the Ulail area of Savar, said factory authorities were supposed to pay their unpaid wages today and demanded to speak to them about the issue.
As no factory official showed up to address them, some 1000 workers present at the site started protesting, they said.
Speaking to the Business Standard, Sadia, swing operator of HR Textile Mills Limited, said, "For the past few days, the staff have been agitated due to the unpaid salaries. They have not yet received their salaries for July, which was supposed to be paid today. The authorities pay us late every month. On Thursday, the workers called a strike."
Ruma Akhter, women affairs secretary of Savar Upazila Committee of Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, who was present at the scene, said at one point, when the workers went from gate 3 to gate 2 and wanted to punch cards, a police officer grabbed a woman worker and hit her with a stick. This made everyone angry. Who gave a male officer the authority to lay hands on women workers like this? When I protested, the officer also beat me with a stick," she alleged.
The workers and labour leaders raised complaints against Altaf Hossain, in-charge of Savar Camp of Ashulia Industrial Police, alleging that he assaulted a few of the women workers present there, and demanded removal of the accused police officer in protest of the incident.
They also alleged that rubber bullets and tear shells were thrown at them.
Referring to the attack on women workers, Rafiqul Islam Sujan, president of the Central Committee of Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, told TBS, "We want the immediate removal of this police officer. What he has done today cannot be accepted in any way."
However, denying the allegations, Altaf Hossain told TBS that the workers attacked the police when they tried to intercept them.
"The workers gathered in front of the factory protesting the salary issue. At one point, some labour leaders incited them to block the roads. When the workers wanted to block the highways, we stopped them and they threw brickbats at the police. So, we fired several rounds of tear shells to disperse them. But no rubber bullets were fired."
Responding to the workers demanding his removal from post, he said, "Our senior officers were on the spot, they must have seen what I did. If I am incompetent, the authorities will remove me from here, I have no say in that."
Authorities of the HR Textile Mills Limited could not be reached for comment at this time.