They hit the authorities with the deadline from a sit-in demonstration in front of the BGMEA Complex at the capital’s Karwan Bazar.
The readymade garment workers threatened of tougher agitation programmes if their demand remained unmet.
Moshrefa Mishu, General Secretary for Garment Sramik Oikya Forum, said, “The office of the Director of Labour will be cordoned off on Feb 3 at 12 noon if our demands are not met. If necessary, we will stage blockades and strikes with garment workers across the country.”
’Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendra’, Bangladesh Textile Workers Federation and ‘Garment Sramik Oikya Forum jointly staged the sit-in.
They also demanded safe working environments for workers and fair compensation for the lives lost to the incidents of fire.
Seven female workers died on Saturday from suffocation and stampede following a fire that broke out in the two-storied factory of Smart Fashions at Mohammadpur’s Beribandh area.
Almost 111 workers died in a deadly blaze in Ashulia’s Tazreen Fashions in November last year.
Mujahidul Islam Selim, President for the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), expressed solidarity with the workers’ organisations. “The Ministry of Labour is responsible for providing safe work environments for workers. The government cannot avoid responsibility for the death of workers at Smart Fashions,” he observed.
He demanded that justice be served to those officials of the government whose negligence paved way for these fatal incidents.
On BGMEA’s claim that Smart Fashions is not one of their members, the CPB President said, “As partners, they have to take responsibility for those members of BGMEA who contracted out orders to Smart Fashions.”
Selim criticised the Prime Minister and the Home minister saying, “After the Tazreen fire they arrested someone named ‘Sumi’ saying she deliberately set fire to the factory for Tk 20,000. I want to ask, ‘Where is Sumi now?’”
The government staged the Sumi incident in an attempt to rescue the owners of Tazreen Fashions, he claimed.
Anu Mohammad , Member Secretary for the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, expressed solidarity by joining the sit-in protest.
He said the recurring incidents could have been avoided if the owners were brought to justice in the previous factory fire incidents.
”The ministers of the government are elected by people’s votes. But when workers die in fires they are the first to protect the owners.”
He was also critical of the Home minister saying, “The Home Minister is responsible for apprehending killers. Instead, he said arresting the owner of Tazreen fashions will bear no fruits.”
” Killers come out of jail on his orders. His intention, it seems, is to save killers and garment factory owners.”
He demanded that compensation be given to the families of each deceased worker by calculating twice the income they could have earned in their lifetime.
Accident laws provide for compensation following a worker’s death which is double the lifetime earning of that worker. In that regard, each worker who died at Tazreen and Smart Fashions should be compensated with Tk 8.4 million, the leaders said.
A group of teachers and students formed a human chain wearing shrouds in front of the BGMEA complex during the sit-in by workers.bdnews24.com