Workers at a garment factory in Gazipur staged a protest on Thursday demanding payment of two months' arrears salary and Eid bonus, as well as the reopening of a closed factory. The agitated workers blocked the Dhaka-Gazipur road for about two hours.
The additional superintendent of the Gazipur Industrial Area Police, Sushant Sarkar and agitating workers said that the owners had closed the 'May Fashion' garment factory in the Bhogra Chowdhury Bari area of Gazipur City on March 19 due to lack of production orders, but said it would reopen in the first week of April. The factory, owned by Lutfar Rahman, has about 700 workers. The workers were paid their March salaries at the time of the closure.
Originally, this factory was built under a sub-contract of a local 'Target Fine Wash' factory owned by a relative of Lutfar Rahman. Since there was no order for work in the main factory, there was no work in this factory either.
A few days ago, the workers staged a protest demanding payment of 60 per cent of their April salaries. In the face of labour unrest, the factory management announced a meeting date with workers' representatives on Thursday, and paid partial wages to some workers. The management also decided to close the factory permanently, citing various reasons, including the already weak building and lack of production orders. They also decided to settle the matter by paying Tk 4,000 to each worker without paying the dues. When the factory management contacted some labour leaders about the matter, they rejected the proposal.
Meanwhile, Inspector of Industrial Police Islam Hossain said that as per the previous announcement of the management, the workers were waiting in front of the May Fashion Factory since Thursday morning for talks. But after waiting for a long time, they became upset as they could not find any owner. At one point they started protesting and demanded the due Eid-ul-Fitr bonus, May salary and 60 per cent salary announced by the government for April.
From there, the workers moved to the front of the 'Target Fine Wash' garment factory in the Naljani area of Chandna crossroads of the city and started protesting. But as no one from the management responded, the workers blocked the Dhaka-Joydevpur road in front of the factory around 10:30 am. Hundreds of vehicles were stuck on both sides of the road, causing long traffic jams.
According to the local people, the police came to the spot and assured the workers that they will take an initiative to negotiate with the owners. Traffic resumed on the road after the protesting workers were moved at around 12:30 pm. Passengers suffered in the scorching heat due to the two-hour road blockade.
Industrial Police SI Subrata Dev said, "The meeting of the workers' representatives with the owners started at noon with the mediation of Additional Superintendent of Police Sushant Sarkar of Gazipur Industrial Area Police. The meeting was going on till 3 pm."