Tannery workers left in the dark

A majority of tannery workers are not getting the assurance of job security or service benefits as the units shift from Hazaribagh to Savar.

The tanners have started shifting their machinery and office equipment as the Department of Environment (DoE) disconnected the power, gas and water supplies to the factories on Saturday.

But factory owners did not assure the workers on whether they would be employed in the Savar units, said aggrieved workers.

There are some permanent workers who have been working for the last 35 years and they are supposed to receive nearly Tk 10 lakh as service benefits, said SM Monjurul Hoque, union leader of a factory at Hazaribagh, yesterday.

The major service benefits of the tannery workers are gratuities, annual earned leave benefits, provident funds and other allowances, he added. “The owners did not discuss these vital points with them yet.”

Many workers may not shift to the new work station, but everybody should be paid accordingly, he said.

The number of permanent workers in the Hazaribagh tanneries is more than 25,000, while there are more than 30,000 temporary workers, he added.

“All the workers are facing uncertainties, although they have been working there for years,” Hoque said.

Union leaders have been demanding that owners bring 40 percent of the temporary workers under a contract, but owners did not even agree for 20 percent as of yesterday, he said.

As per the labour law, any worker can be made permanent after 90 days, but at the Hazaribagh tanneries, many workers have not been made permanent even after 10 years, he said.

“We have been asking for the service testimonies from the factories, but management is not giving those to the workers. Without such certification, there is no proof of my service.”

Only five to six factories have given testimonies to the workers so far, he informed.

Shahin Ahmed, president of Bangladesh Tanners Association, “If any worker wants to go to Savar, we will hire him/her, or terminate them with four months’ salary.”

Astahar Ali, a union leader at another factory, also said that the workers have not been given assurance for their service benefits or continuation of jobs at Savar.

Moreover, the workers have been passing tough days without water, gas and power supplies in the last five days, especially, the women and children who lived on the factory premises. “We are buying food from restaurants with our last deposited money.”

The workers will not be paid as it will take at least five months for production to start at the new site, he said, adding they will face more trouble as the month of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr are just around the corner.

Security guards at the old units are guarding leather goods worth billions of taka with lanterns at night for a lack of power, he said. The factory owners will not be able to export goods and thus, not pay the workers, he said.

Mohammad Mainuddin, a machine operator, said accommodation, medical facilities and transportation facilities are not ready yet at Savar.

“So if any worker falls sick, he might not be rushed to hospitals quickly for treatment. We need assurance of such facilities as soon as possible,” Mainuddin said.

Source: The Daily Star


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here