Cargo management at the Chattogram port has been disrupted due to a strike enforced by a fraction of water transport workers from early morning today.
Ataul Kabir Talukder Ranju, deputy secretary (operation) of Water Transport Cell, said, "Activities of unloading cargo from mother vessels were halted immediately after the water transport workers went into the strike."
Water Transport Cell, which deals with the lighter vessels, informed that an average of 100 lighter vessels were assigned for unloading goods from around 50 to 60 mother vessels.
But following the strike, the unloading of bulk cargo from 49 mother vessels at outer anchorage of Chattogram port has been halted.
As per Chittagong Port authorities, among the 49 mother vessels, 14 of them are laden with general cargo, eight are laden with food grains, three are laden with fertiliser, 20 are laden with cement clinker, two are laden with sugar, and two more are oil tankers.
Nabi Alam, joint general secretary of Bangladesh Noujan Sramik Federation and senior vice president of Bangladesh Lighterage Sramik Union, said, "The workers have called a countrywide indefinite strike from 12.01am tonight to press home their 11-point demand. One of the demands includes the implementation of a wage board."
He added that the workers will continue the strike until their demands are met – which include issuing identity cards, service books, letter of appointment, provision of food allowance, landing passes for workers on India-bound vessels, stopping extortion and trials of attackers.
Earlier in April, Water Transport Workers Federation called a strike to press home the same 11 demands but the strike was postponed for 45 days following a meeting with water transport owners.
On November 27, four such organisations, including Bangladesh Water Transport Workers Federation and Bangladesh Lighterage Sramik Union, went on work abstention. However, following a meeting with government authorities, a fraction of the workers withdrew the strike. But the other fraction is going back into strike today for an indefinite period.
Sheikh Mohammad Ichha Mia, president of Bangladesh Lighterage Sramik Union, however, claimed that a workers group went into strike again to defame the union.
He said, "We called off the strike following a meeting with the government authorities but a group of the workers has called the strike again to tarnish our reputation."
Mahbubul Alam, president of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "The strikers should refrain from hampering operation activities in the port. The recurring strikes are posing great threats to our economy."