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Garments, Fire, Politics and Compensation December 7, 2012

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Ashulia 4'About 111 workers were burnt to death in a garment factory in Ashulia, 30 km from capital Dhaka , where most of the victims are young girls, many of whom are mothers of children. The news also spread like fire and telecasted in the media of home and abroad. The scene was unthinkable, unbearable to see and beyond description. The immediate reaction of the people was of awe and their hearts filled with sadness.
It was heard that the fire broke out from electric short circuit in the ground floor where piles of cotton were in stock . The fire alarms were ranged but it was at the same time announced that it was a false alarm. The gates were kept closed . The fire and fumes spread along the stairs and spread to the other floors. There was no way for the workers to escape from the disaster. Some of them managed to break the windows and jumped to the ground and to the adjacent roofs and many of them survived but many died and injured.
There was none found to take the responsibility. The owner was nowhere to find, no executive to respond to the need of the hour. The burnt bodies were lined up in the corridor of a school, relatives tried to identify their dear ones. About 55 were remain unrecognized. Their DNA samples were preserved and buried by numbers in a common ground for future identification. The injured were taken to different hospitals. But they found little support from the authority or government initially.
Ashulia -2
The government, the business leaders and citizen groups all felt concern for the situation. PM announced that it is an act of conspirators but citizen groups preferred to wait to the end of inquiry.

Business leaders discussed ways to limit the future damage and coordinate compensations for the workers but they found no fault on the part of the owner.For the survived workers it was hard to accept the fate of their co-workers. They engaged themselves in daily agitations in the industry area. Workers from other industries also joined them to show their sympathy.

At one time 3 executives for Tajreen Garment were arrested but the owner remain free.
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After 6 days of fire, PM handed over cheque of Tk. 6 lac for each dead workers. But those who missed their relatives there were no soothing words for them.
The money was contributed by business associations, financial institutions and the government.
Tazreen Garment was declared closed but other garment owners took initiative to accommodate the left out workers of Tazreen.

But if such disaster cannot be prevented in future and if the plight of the workers cannot be changed, the lesson learnt from the incident will not be completed.

An ordinary citizen

May Day: Giving a share of profit to workers May 1, 2009

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May Day parade: Daily Star

May Day parade: Daily Star

May Day is observed throughout the world. Workers of different countries expressed their grievances and demanded better salary and other facilities. In Bangladesh also workers got a break from their job and marched the streets of different cities and organised meetings and raised their voices for better salary and better livelihood.

In Bangladesh, the poitical parties also are staging showdown for the poors. The new government has organised a May Day grand meeting in Paltan maidan to commomorate the day and to express solidarity with the working force of the country. PM Hasina declared that the closed industries will be reopen to employ the workers. She also assures that the workers will be given share to the mills and factories. BNP, the major opposition party also declared a meeting tomorrow in the same venue to project their stand.

The lot of the workers is not changing with time though garments sector is the senond largest earners of the country where lacs of workers are engaged. The picture in other sectors is also same. They are not getting the minimum salary they are supposed to get, the working hour is more than 8 hours, are not given appropriate extra charges for their extra work, long term benefit such as gratuity and pensions are absent, no job security, in most of the industries no healthy environment, no health support for the workers and their family, no support for the education of their children, no adequate compensation for the workers in case of death or injury on job.

The owners in the name of competitive world market are keeping the salary of the workers below the minimum. Every year some horrible incedents occur in the garment factories where the workers at one stage of their movement vandalise the factories, obstruct the roads and damage the vehicles.There are speculation that some vested circles exploit the resentment of the workers to damage the reputation of the garment sector of our country. In 2008, when there were signs of agitations, the then Adviser for the Caretaker Government for Local Government, labour and Industries urged the garment owners to increase the salary and improve the environmet of the workers.

The ordianry citizen strongly favours the distribution of a percentage of the profit (10%) to the workers in addition to the minimum salary and previlege they are supposed to get according to the international law. The government and the owners of the factories, industires and companies should mull over the matter on this May Day.

An ordinary citizen

Jute Industries: Golden fibre shouldn’t be faded August 18, 2007

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Some statistics in Jute sector:

From 77 Jute Industries in 70’s, now it is 14 in the Government sector. The no of labourers came down fom 250,000 to 45000, no of looms from 26000 to 8000, production of jute came to half.

Last year, Jute sector lost 421 crore of taka. Out of this, 30 crore is for labourers, 140 crore for the delay in the purchase of raw jute, 130 crore for lack of electricity.

In private sector, 56 industries are there; almost all are in bad shape. Looms are 11 thousand 700 in no. Last year only 3400 looms were productive. Only one and a half lac ton jute was produced in the last year though the target was 3 lac ton. 13 thousand permanent and 18 thousand temporary laborer work in the Private Jute mills.

But in private sector 65 twin and spinning mills are making profit. Here 36 thousand labourers are working.


‘IMF shouldn’t dictate the economic management of Bangladesh’ August 3, 2007

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The business leaders of Bangladesh has said that IMF should not dictate the economic management of Bangladesh. They said in a joint statement that the agencies are trying to impose conditions and dictate terms in every detail of economic management of a sovereign country.

They were expressing their reaction to the suggestion put forward by the IMF to increase the price of gas, electricity and the petrol at the same time. They said that the increase in the price of the energy sector will increase cost of production and will increase the price of the essentials. In turn it will increase the suffering of the people and decrease the growth of the economy in our country. (more…)