The BNP is stoking the garment workers’ protests over wage hikes even after the monthly salary was raised, says Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan.
The minister claimed on Sunday that the BNP was trying to spread unrest through the garment workers after failing in their plan to force the government to step down ahead of the general election.
He noted that the prime minister had raised the wages by 56 percent, pushing the minimum salary from Tk 8,000 to Tk 12,500 a month.
“We’ve heard that many people have doubts [about workers’ salary grade]. What’s going to happen to the second, third and fourth grades? The industry owners will surely resolve that as they have to continue their trade. But resolving the matter can’t involve arson, vandalism and blockades.”
Asaduzzaman said video footage confirmed that most of the protesting workers were supporters of the BNP.
“The recommendations we’re mostly receiving through video footage show most of the workers are BNP activists. We saw a BNP leader from Kushtia arrive at Konabari to encourage and unite the protesting workers,” he said.
“They [BNP leaders] are gathering and provoking the innocent workers. Having failed in all avenues, the BNP is probably trying to get ahead through this.”
If the workers had issues with the fresh wage hike, they could have settled the matter through discussions with the owners, but what they were engaged in now was harming themselves and the country, Asaduzzaman said.
“[The BNP] is definitely fuelling the protests, that’s what we are saying.”
He mentioned that law enforcers were on the hunt for those who were torching vehicles.
“We’re taking legal action. The people of the country are quite aware as well and are helping us capture them. When people stand their ground, these things will automatically stop.”
The minister mentioned that the BNP’s goal was simply to cause instability through the blockades.
“The Election Commission will hold the election on time. The citizens hope everyone will participate in the election. We are still saying the BNP has to participate in the election if there’s to be any chance to change the government.”
On whether the BNP could participate in the election with its top leaders in jail, he said: “Whether they’ll take part in the election is up to them. We did not capture any BNP leader or activists before the violence over the Oct 28 rally.”