‘Factories need to run’

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the readymade garment workers, angered by the Savar multi-storey building collapse, to return to work.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 30 April 2013, 08:36 AM
Updated : 30 April 2013, 12:58 PM

“I will tell my worker brothers to keep a cool head during this disaster. We need to keep the industry running,” she said in her concluding speech in the 17th session of Parliament on Tuesday.

Hasina warned the workers of the garment sector, the country’s biggest export earner, “You will lose jobs if the industry is not running. You will have return to your villages.”

Agitated workers have been smashing vehicles in several places across the country including Dhaka, Gazipur, Ashulia since the nine-storey commercial block Rana Plaza caved in on Apr 24 morning, killed close to 400 people so far.
Factory authorities were forced to shut down operations for the last few days since the worst industrial disaster in Bangladesh’s history took place.
The BGMEA and BKMEA had kept all readymade garments factories closed on Saturday and Sunday.
During her speech, the Prime Minister mentioned the initiatives taken by the government to rescue and rehabilitate the victims.
She expressed her pleasure over the verdict on the 1975 Jail Killing Case and election of Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury as the first woman Speaker of Parliament.
“We have made history. There are women Speakers in two neighbouring countries. Why would we stay behind?”
Meera Kumar is the Speaker of Indian Parliament and Fahmida Mirza in Pakistan.
Regarding the Jail Killing Case verdict, Hasina said, “We have got the verdict. We have freed ourselves of the shame. The sentences will be executed on Nov 3. The nation will be free of this stigma too.”
Mentioning the election of the new President and his swearing in, she said, “I had to carry out the state duty embracing the pain.”
The oath-taking ceremony of new President Abdul Hamid took place on Apr 24 afternoon after the Rana Plaza at Savar had collapsed in the morning.
She again reiterated her government’s firm stance to finish the 1971 war crimes trials. “The verdicts of these trials will be executed.”
Hasina criticised the angry workers for carrying out violence at a time when efforts to rescue people from the wreckage were going on and people were donating blood for the injured.
“When you were needed at the side of those in distress, you were expressing anger, what kind of anger is this?”
She said the real workers will be harmed by those posing as workers were vandalising the industries. “Who will benefit by vandalising the industry? Where will they [workers] get jobs?”
The government will take care of the expenses of those hospitalised until they fully recover, she added.
Families of the injured were also given financial aids, she said.

She pointed to the arrests of the owners of Rana Plaza and those of five readymade garment factories and said, “Those responsible will be punished.”

Hasina mentioned the participation of people, Bangladesh Army, Fire Service and Civil Defence and law enforcers in the rescue efforts.

She said 408 have been confirmed in the catastrophe.

“This is overwhelming. People for the people. Man for the humanity.”

She also pointed out that rescue operations were called off two days after collapse of Spectrum/Shahriyar Sweater factory during the BNP rule in 2005. “This time it was my orders to conduct rescue until the last person alive is saved.”

The Prime Minister expressed sorrow for the loss of ‘Shahina’ dubbing her death ‘most grieving’ on the fifth day of rescue operations.

She informed that one Ejaj – injured while trying to salvage Sahina – was sent to Singapore for treatment. “He has been giving voluntary service until now. He was there away from his family. He cannot die like this.”

“I went to CMH to see him there. All of his face was burned. His wife is very young. Ejaj’s daughter told me, ‘I want to see my father’.”

Hasina criticised the owners for forcing their employees into work despite cracks appearing in the wall prior the previous the day.

According to her, the two industrial police personnel rescued had told her that they had gone inside to request all to come out.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher