Police crack down on unpaid Tuba garment workers

Police clubbed and tear-gassed hunger-striking Tuba Group garment workers on Thursday to drive them from the factory.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 7 August 2014, 07:04 PM
Updated : 7 August 2014, 07:07 PM

They had been there protesting for the last ten days to get the management to pay them three months' salaries and overtime and Eid allowances.

Labour activists Moshrefa Mishu and Jolly Talukder, demonstrating with the workers, were detained during Thursday's drive but were released later at night.

Workers at Tuba Group factory went on the hunger strike on July 28 and were joined by a number of labour organisations.

As Tuba owner Delowar Hossain was in jail in a case over the death of over 110 workers at his Tazreen Fashions in 2012, the BGMEA offered the workers two months' salaries.

The workers rejected it and pressed on with their demand.

But after Thursday's eviction, many protestors, some of them wounded, thronged the BGMEA Bhaban to collect salaries.

The BGMEA on Thursday evening claimed 1,305 out of 1,458 Tuba Group workers had taken salaries from them.

Most of the workers said they had no choice but to accept the offer as they ran out of money.

Garments Sramik Oikya Forum President Mishu called for an indefinite strike at readymade garment factories across Bangladesh before being picked up by police.

Photo: asif mahmud ove/ bdnews24.com

Law enforcers entered the factory premises around 1:15pm on Thursday and lobbed tear gas canisters and baton-charged the workers.
Over 200 panicking workers scurried down from the factory on the sixth floor of 'Hossain Market' in the capital's Badda.
bdnews24.com correspondent Sheikh Abdullah reported from the scene that police personnel, deployed outside the factory, also fired blank shots during the drive.
Several works claimed police had used pepper spray on them but police refused to comment on the matter.
"We will talk about it later," Gulshan Zone police's Assistant Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Mahabub Hasan told bdnews24.com.
Labour activist Mishu claimed police had beaten her up during their "peaceful movement" and forced them to leave.
She said they would continue the hunger strike either at the Shaheed Minar or some other place.

Photo: asif mahmud ove/ bdnews24.com

Several other labour activists, including Bangladesh Trade Union Centre's Assistant General Secretary Jolly Talukder, were detained during the drive.
Police claimed they tried to 'tackle the situation'.
Several photojournalists, including the Daily New Age's Abdullah Apu and Daily Samakal's 'Rubel', were injured during the action.
In his bid to defend police action, Badda OC MA Jalil claimed some Tuba Group workers had entered a nearby garment factory in Lutfun Shopping Complex and tried to provoke them to agitate.
But they refused to join Tuba workers and clashed with them. However, workers from five factories housed in that building and another one in nearby Hakim Tower came down on the streets, blocking traffic.
"We we were trying to remove the workers from the road when Tuba's workers came down and tried to create anarchy.

Photo: asif mahmud ove/ bdnews24.com

"We dispersed them for the sake of public safety," the police officer claimed.
Asked about Mishu's allegations that he had threatened to shoot and rape the workers, Jalil said police did not enter the Tuba factory.
"We did not charge baton or lob teargas," he claimed. "The allegations of threats are false."
Tuba Group owner Delwar Hossain was freed two days ago after the High Court granted him bail in the Tazreen fire case on condition that he would pay the workers.
Demonstrators claimed their salaries were not paid to mount pressure for Delwar's bail.
At a press conference on Thursday, State Minister for Labour Mujibul Haque Chunnu warned that Tuba owners will face action if they do not pay their workers by Sunday.
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher