Waterways strike lifted

Ending a three-day impasse, the water transport workers on Friday called off their indefinite strike upon assurance of a 20 percent hike in their wages in a meeting with the Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan.

The strike was lifted at night following a tripartite meeting between the government, water vessels’ owners and workers.

Chowdhury Ashiqul Alam, General Secretary of the Noujan Sramik Federation, or water transport workers’ federation, announced the end of the programme around 8pm and urged all river transport workers to rejoin work.

Earlier, a meeting between the water vessel owners and workers in presence of Shahjahan Khan reached a decision to increase the wages of the workers.

The meeting was held at the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) headquarters in the city’s Motijheel.

The Noujan Sramik Federation enforced the nonstop strike from Tuesday night to press home their 16-point charter of demands, including re-fixing their wage structure.

The work abstention crippled launch services between capital Dhaka and the southwest part of the country in the last three days. Hundreds of lighter vessels got stuck at Chittagong port and different terminals of the port city.

Shajahan had told reporters on Thursday that before the workers had gone for the work abstention, the water transport owners and workers were called by the Ministry of Labour to a trilateral meeting to discuss the demands. But no representative from the owners’ side turned up.

He said that the wage structure of the workers is re-fixed after five years. The latest structure was fixed around three and a half years back. The government had no immediate plan to re-fix their wage structure, saying rather a dearness allowance could be announced for the river transport workers for the interim period.

Ashiqul Alam said on Thursday that the prices of essentials had gone up after 2010, making the living of the workers more difficult.

Their other demands include ensuring security of workers on waterways, keeping the rivers navigable, fitness certification for all vessels, and prompt disposal of the cases pending with the marine court. bdnews24.com

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