BGMEA's call to withdraw hunger strike rejected
Published: 2014-08-03 21:19:43.0 BdST Updated: 2014-08-03 22:39:19.0 BdST
Tuba Group workers, demonstrating for the past seven days for their unpaid wages, have rejected BGMEA's call to withdraw their hunger strike.
Tuba Group Workers Movement Committee Coordinator Moshrefa Mishu told bdnews24.com on Sunday: "The hunger strike will continue until all workers of the Tuba Group get their wages, bonuses, overtime dues and allowances."
She said their plan to lay siege to the BGMEA headquarters and other programmes will be implemented.
She made the announcement soon after BGMEA, the apex body of garment business owners, said at a press briefing that the workers of Tuba Group's five factories would get two months’ wages on Wednesday.
The decision had come after a meeting of the association, government and workers in the afternoon.
BGMEA acting president AM Mannan Kochi, "Starting from 10am on Wednesday two months’ salary will be given to the workers at the BGMEA Bhaban. The rest will be paid by the owner within Aug 10."
He also appealed to the workers to withdraw their hunger strike, assuring them that their overtime dues and allowances would also be paid within that time.
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan and State Minister for Labour Mujibul Haque Chunnu had attended the meeting and were present at the press briefing.
The ministers had also urged the workers to end their strike that led to at least 122 of them falling ill.
Responding to the call, Moshrefa Mishu said, "The BGMEA seems to be joking. But the workers are in no mood to enjoy a joke. The payment of dues is a must. Otherwise, we will continue our movement till death."
Earlier in the day, the Tuba Group Workers Movement Committee at a press conference announced that demonstrations in all industrial zones in the country would be held on Monday and a siege would be laid to the BGMEA headquarters on Tuesday to press for the fulfilment of their demands.
Their five demands are: immediate payment of unpaid wages, overtime, and Eid bonuses, factories should be kept open so that the 1,500 workers can retain their livelihood, compensation for workers who have fallen ill, the scraping of Tuba Group Managing Director Delwar Hossain’s bail and the award of the death penalty, and compensation for the victims of Tazreen Fashions fire.
Tuba Group workers allege that the owners were stalling payment of their wages and allowances to press for Delwar’s release.
The Tuba Group owner is currently in jail in a case filed over the deaths of 112 workers of readymade garment factory Tazreen Fashions, which was gutted in a blaze in 2012. The Group owned Tazreen Fashions.
However, the High Court granted Delwar Hossain bail on Thursday, but he is yet to be released.
Around 1,600 workers of Tuba’s five factories have been on a hunger strike inside one of its units on Hossain Market at Dhaka's Badda since July 28, demanding payment of the wages, overtime dues and allowances for the months of May, June and July.
BGMEA made several promises since then to ensure that the workers’ dues were met, but nothing materialised.
Tuba Group Workers Movement Committee member Joly Talukder told bdnews24.com: "The BGMEA made similar promises four times earlier. We don't have confidence in the BGMEA's assurances anymore."
No decision to withdraw the hunger strike has been taken yet, he said.
Meanwhile, 24 eminent persons, including university teachers, have issued a statement urging immediate measures to meet the demands of the Tuba Group workers.
They said a plot had been hatched to get the owner out of jail by taking the workers hostage and not paying their wages and bonuses at the time of Eid.
The government and the BGMEA could not avoid their responsibility in forcing the workers to start a hunger strike, said the statement signed by Prof MM Akash.
The citizens, who also signed the statement, announced that a token hunger strike would be held in Dhaka on Wednesday if the matter was not resolved.
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