At least 30 people, including 15 women, were injured in clashes between agitating garments workers and police on the Dhaka-Tangail highway at Narasinghapur in Ashulia on Monday.
Police said hundreds of workers of Ha-Meem Group in Narasinghapur reported for work around 7.45am. They then staged a demonstration, demanding pay hikes and other benefits.
As the news spread, hundreds of workers of Ha-Meem Group’s other units located at Banglabazar area brought out a procession to express solidarity with their agitating counterparts at Narsinghapur. As soon as the participants of the procession joined the protesters, all the workers blockaded the busy Dhaka-Tangail highway.
A huge contingent of police and industrial police personnel rushed to the scene and charged at the agitators with batons and fired teargas shells. The workers retaliated by pelting stones and brickbats on the law enforcers. As many as 30 people were injured in the melee.
Deputy director of industrial police Mohammad Moniruzzaman said, “Traffic movement resumed on the Dhaka-Tangail highway within half an hour of the incident.”
Additional police superintendent (Dhaka) Shyamal Kumar Mukherjee said, “Our men had to charge batons and fire rubber bullets and teargas shells to bring the situation under control.”
Officer-in-charge of Ashulia police station Mohammad Badrul Alam said, “No case was filed in connection with the workers’ unrest till evening.”
In a related development, Ha-Meem Group authorities claimed that they had already met most of the workers’ demands and increased the attendance bonus from Tk. 300 to Tk. 350.
Ha-Meem Group deputy general manager Delwar Hossain said, “The workers are now also demanding payment for three days from May 13 to 15 when all Ashulia-based garments factories were closed following labour unrest.”
Hossain added: “Our management has decided that each worker will get Tk. 25 for lunch from today. Tiffin money will also be hiked from Tk. 15 to Tk. 20. The attendance bonus for helpers will be increased from Tk. 250 to Tk. 300. In the case of other senior grade workers, it will be hiked to Tk. 400 from Tk. 300.” Attendance bonus for the three BGMEA-announced holidays will also be given as per the apex body’s directives, he said.
Earlier, “troubled” factories in Ashulia had shut down for three days. The factories had reopened on Friday.
According to rules, workers cannot demand payment for those days as the factories were closed on the basis of a “no work, no pay” rule, Hossain said.
-With The Independent input