Mishu, Jolly arrested
Amid the confusion of salary disbursement, agitating garment workers on Thursday backtracked from their indefinite countrywide strike but announced demonstrations for Friday while a countrywide strike on Saturday protesting ‘police attacks’ on them and the arrest of their leaders.
Tuba Group Sramik Sangram Committee made the revised programme following changed scenario.
Earlier, Moshrefa Mishu, president of the Garment Workers Unity Forum, had announced the indefinite countrywide indefinite strike on behalf of the workers when she was arrested by police in front of Tuba Group factory in the city’s Badda area.
Before being picked up by Badda police, Mishu told reporters that the workers would continue their hunger strike at Central Shaheed Minar.
However, Garment Workers Unity Forum Finance Secretary and Mishu’s spokesperson Shahidul Islam Sabuj told UNB that they have postponed the hunger-strike programme. “We’ll let you know if there is any further decision about it.”
Police also arrested Bangladesh Trade Union Center’s joint secretary Jolly Talukder shortly after her removal from Tuba Group factory at Hossain Market, Badda.
Officer-in-charge of Badda Police Station M Abdul Jalil confirmed the arrest of both Mishu and Jolly.
However, Communist Party of Bangladesh in a press release claimed labour leader Monjur Moin was also arrested and condemned the arrest of the three leaders. The party demanded immediate release of the leaders and fulfillment of the workers’ demands.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) claimed that all workers except 20 under the five Tuba Group factories received their salaries for the months of May and June.
“Only 20 workers are left so far to receive their salaries,” BGMEA vice president M Shahidullah Azim told UNB.
However, Garment Workers Unity Forum rejected BGMEA’s claim and termed it a blatant lie.
“It’s quite impossible to disburse salaries to such huge number of workers within this short time,” said Shahidul Islam.
He claimed that there had been 1122 workers with them before police action at 1pm. “So, how is it possible? They (BGMEA) gave the wrong message on Wednesday, too. There had been 1470 workers with us yesterday,” he added.
Earlier in the day, police stormed into a factory of Tuba Group in Badda area fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters to disperse the workers as they were observing an indefinite hunger strike demanding that their three months’ salaries and bonus be paid together.
Over a dozen workers and journalists, including photographers of The Daily Star and Prothom Alo, were injured during the incident.
Policemen charged batons on the agitating workers as they vandalised at least 20 vehicles on the road in front of the factory.
On Wednesday, Mushrefa Mishu, coordinator of ‘Tuba Group Sramik Sangram Committee’ and also president of Garments Sramik Oikya Forum, announced that the readymade garment workers would observe a daylong strike in all the RMG units across the country on Saturday.
But today, they changed their programme in a changed situation.
The workers of the Tuba Group factories have been on the hunger strike inside their factory floors at Hossain Market at Uttar Badda under Badda Police Station since July 28 demanding that they be remunerated for three months of unpaid work and Eid bonuses.
Tuba Group, which owned the Tazreen Fashions Ltd, have five other factories — Tuba Textile Mills Limited, Tuba Fashion Limited, Taif Designs Limited, Mita Designs Limited, Bughshan Garments (pvt) Limited where over 1490 workers are employed.