Operations at river ports and passenger terminals for waterways across the country have been disrupted after transport workers went on an indefinite strike.
The strike began at Friday (Nov 29) midnight, causing immense sufferings to the commuters and hampering business activities.
Bangladesh Water Transport Workers Federation (BWTWF) called the indefinite strike to push for their 11-point demand, including pay hike and risk allowance.
No passenger-carrying vessels left from Dhaka’s Sadarghat terminal since the strike started.
Bangla Tribune correspondents in Narayanganj, Chandpur, Barishal, Mongla and other places, where waterways is the main mode of transport, reported that vessels have been anchored at terminals since Friday midnight.
Mongla-based Chowdhury Ashiqul Alam, who serves as the BWTWF general secretary, said workers of around 20,000 water vessels across the country have joined the strike spontaneously except a few ones.
“Some proposals were floated in a meeting with the labour ministry on Nov 27. However, those remain unaddressed which prompted workers to go on a strike,” the union leader told Bangla Tribune's Mongla correspondent on Saturday (Nov 30).
Union workers had gone on a strike in July this year, which was lifted following assurance by launch owners, added Alam.
The 11-point demand of BWTWF includes wages according to government gazette, stopping extortion and robbery in vessels, providing appointment letters to workers, issuing identity cards and service books to workers, issuing landing pass for India bound workers and ensuring social safety of workers.
No passenger vessel has left Barishal terminal since Friday dawn. Commuters are going through immense suffering due to the recent road transport strike and subsequent water transport strike.
Local BWTWF leader Ekin Ali said, “The strike will continue until the owners meet the demands.”
The agitated workers alleged, they had to go on strikes in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 demanding the same issues.
However, the owners have never met their demands after frequent assurance.
The water transport workers in Narayanganj have expressed their solidarity with the movement following their abstention in work since early on Saturday.
However, the operation of all types of passenger and cargo vessels in the city’s terminal remained suspended except a few ones.
Commuters have been seen waiting and suffering at the terminal.
Water transport workers have held human chain and demonstration at the terminal on Saturday morning.
Bangladesh Water Transport Workers Staff Union General Secretary Shabuj Shikdar said, “The owners have been sabotaging workers’ rights after giving frequent assurances.”
“No assurance can stop the strike till the demands are realized properly,” said Shikdar.
The Chandpur Launch Terminal has been inactive since the strike called for.
Owner of Bogdadi launch, Biplab Sarkar said, “No launch has left the terminal due to lack of staff.”
“However, two launches have arrived Chandpur in the morning,” he added.
The operation of cargo vessels has been halted at Mongla port since midnight. Loading and unloading have been continued in the morning, which has stopped later.