Jute mill workers' 96-hr protest begins with road, railways blockade

Khulna Correspondent
Published : 16:54, Apr 15, 2019 | Updated : 16:54, Apr 15, 2019

Protesters burn effigies to start their protest in Khulna on Monday (Apr 15).The state-owned jute mill workers in Khulna have begun their 96-hour-protest program to press home their nine-point demand, by suspending jute production throughout the nation.
Workers began protesting around 6am on Monday (Apr 15) by blocking the roads and railways around 8am, according to by Khalilur Rahman, Platinum Jute Mill workers’ leader and Jute Mills CBA, and non-CBA Oikya Parishad central joint convener.
As rail services were suspended since the morning, passengers are made to wait at the stations.
Khulna Railway Station Master Manik Chandra Sarker said: "We suspended rail services considering the safety of the passengers. Rail services may commence from 12pm."
The new schedule for protest and strikes include a 96-hour-strike from Apr 15 to 18, and four hours of blockade. After which, a workers meeting has been scheduled on Apr 25 at every mill, followed by a 72-hour-strike and six-hour-blockade from Apr 27 to 29.
As the joint meeting regarding their nine-point demand at Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) head office on April 6 was not successful, the worker leaders announced the schedule at a meeting on the evening of Apr 12 near the People's intersection in BIDC road, next to Khulna's Khalishpur.
The jute mill workers have been protesting to have their nine-point demands met for the past several years. Their demands were implementation of National Wage Commission 2015, alongside clearing dues, paying wage every week, making replacement workers permanent, and clearance of payments due of retired workers.
From April 2 to Apr 4, the jute mill workers held 72 hour strike and 4 hours of blockade of roads and railways. Due to which, the industrial zone of Khulna, along with the mills, became almost inert.
On April 3, the workers' leaders were called for a meeting by BJMC authorities. The meeting was held at BJMC head office in Dhaka on Apr 6, with the leaders of the Jute Mills Workers League and BJMC Chairman Shah Muhammad Nasim in attendance. However, the workers walked out as their demands were not met.
On Apr 7, the Jute Mills Workers League, and CBA and non-CBA Oikya Parishad, decided to observe 96-hour and 72-hour strikes, and four-hour and six-hour blockades in various phases.