Fresh unrest rocks Bangladesh’s apparel industry, 55 units shut

by Apparel Resources News-Desk

21-December-2018  |  4 mins read

Bangladesh workers protesting.
Image Courtesy: www.ft.com

A fresh swathe of unrest has taken over Bangladesh’s apparel industry following a week’s relapse – signalling that the unrest over the latest wage hike is likely to persist.

At least 15 manufacturing units were shut across Hemayetpur, Savar, in purview of workers’ protests. Additional police were deployed in the area throughout December 20, 2018.

Apparel Resources could gather that the area, Tannery Road, was brewing in unrest for quite some time now – and reeling under protests of Standard Group’s 9,000 apparel workers. Three units of the group witnessed shutdown amid protests on the day.

Sana Shaminur Rahman, superintendent of Industrial Police in Dhaka, confirmed Apparel Resources, the closure of at least 15 factories, including those three of Standard Group’s, throughout Hemayetpur. The situation worsened after showing signs of improvement in the start of the week.

Also, across Ashulia, the other apparel industry intensive zone at the outskirts of Dhaka, beside Savar, also witnessed the shutdown of at least 30 manufacturing units amid intense workers’ demonstrations on the day.

GAZIPUR WORST HIT

The worst affected area has been Gazipur, where workers’ demonstrations throughout Konabari, Sreepur and Rajendrapur has been persisting relentlessly throughout the last 10 days, according to local sources and labour leaders.

Md Siddiqur Rahman, local superintendent of Industrial Police, has confirmed Apparel Resouces of the development and has assured that the law enforcers are trying their best to bring the situation under control.

On-the-field sources have told Apparel Resources that law enforcers might go on the hardline against the swathe of labour unrest which has not eased despite repeated efforts from the manufacturers and leaders of the industry.

WHY THE UNREST?

Speaking to several workers, who all wish to remain anonymous, Apparel Resources has found out workers are mostly agitating due to concerns over a “discriminatory” wage hike claiming that there will be no evaluation of merit and experience in the new pay structure.

According to them, a newcomer joining in December will get a wage of BDT 8,000. But, people working for several years now, and those who have gained experience and increments, will be receiving close to what a newcomer will be getting.

The agitation is mostly within the operators and their seniors who are now drawing their wages under 3rd or 4th grade of the previous wage structure. Many of them are fearing that due to previous increments and performance incentives, their raise may be as little as BDT 500.

Also, workers are in fear of losing their jobs as December-January is the general time period of sacking workers who are receiving higher wages, Khairul Mamun Mintu, organizing secretary of Garments Sramik Trade Union Kendra, tells Apparel Resources.

WILL THE CALM REMAIN?

It has been learned that the ongoing unrest is mostly of spontaneous nature. The employed workers are fearing that their increment of the last few years will wash away once the wage board is implemented and that the salary rates of the experienced workers will be almost the same of a new and inexperienced worker.

Since the manufacturers are yet to convey a satisfactory response to this question, the workers are unlikely to subside. It also seems that the owners themselves are not clear over the issue, or are purposefully avoiding the topic at this moment.

Until and unless the owners come to a solution of evaluating merit and experience, the labour unrest is likely to continue and grow.

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