Thousands of workers carrying banners and posters rallied, took out marches, and organised human-chain demonstrations on the street in front of the National Press Club and adjacent areas on Tuesday.
Police, however, did not allow the BNP’s worker affiliate Jatiyatabadi Sramik Dal to demonstrate.
Garment Workers Trade Union Centre backed by the Communist Party of Bangladesh or CPB rallied in front of Mukti Bhaban at Paltan.
CPB President Mujahidul Islam told the rally that the demand for Tk 16,000 minimum wage was raised two and a half years ago.
“The government hasn’t met the demand yet. Now after two and a half years, the minimum wage should be set at Tk 20,000,” he proposed.
He demanded that the authorities guarantee all rights of workers following the International Labour Organisation or ILO convention.
“The government must not delay in meeting this demand,” he said.
He also asked that workers’ right to form trade unions be ensured and compensation made following international laws if a worker is injured at workplace.
Sramik-Karmachari Oikya Parishad, a council of 14 organisations, organised a rally in front of the Press Club.
Jatiya Sramik League President Shukur Mahmud told the rally that it is “impossible” to run a family without Tk 18,000 monthly pay at a minimum.
“We hope the government will meet our demand shortly,” he said.
He also demanded safe workplace, and double payment for overtime work hours and on public holidays.
Speaking at Jatiya Sramik Jote rally at the Bangabandhu Avenue, Inu, also tye information minister, urged the workers to frustrate efforts to break their unity.
JaSoD General Secretary Shirin Akhter, Jote President Saifuzzaman Badsha and General Secretary Naimul Ahsan Jewel, among others, spoke at the rally.
Jatiya Sramik Gana Front Coordinator Tipu Biswas addressed a rally organised by the platform of four organisations.
At the height of agitation, the authorities accepted the workers' demand and the eight-hour day was introduced universally.
On July 14, 1889 in Paris, an international workers' rally declared May 1 as the International Workers Solidarity Day in recognition of the Chicago workers' sacrifice and achievement and since 1890, the day has been observed globally as the International Workers Solidarity Day.
In Bangladesh, the day is a public holiday. All offices, banks, industries and factories remain closed.
BNP-affiliated Sramik Dal had announced a march from the BNP office at Naya Paltan at 11am.
Party leaders said police called Sramik Dal General Secretary Nurul Islam Khan and other leaders to Paltan Model Police Station on Monday night and asked them not to go ahead with the programme.
The Dal’s former president Nazrul Islam Khan, now a member of the BNP’s Standing Committee, told a press conference they will report the issue to International Trade Union or ITU.
“We are a member of the ITU. Bangladesh, as a member of ILO, is pledge-bound to implement the ILO Convention 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise),” he said.
“We have to report to ITU what programmes we organise. We will now report we could not organise any programme and why we could not,” he added.
Sramik Dal President Anwar Hossain said, “It is clear that police are acting on orders from the authoritarian government.”