Bidi–cigarette workers discrimination protested

Bidi factory workers in Barisal on  Thursday formed human chain,
staged demonstration on city roads and handed over memorandum
demanding withdrawal of proposed additional taxes on handmade tobacco
products and discrimination between bidi and cigarette factory
Barisal Karikar Bidi Sramik Union organised the human chain at
Nathullabad central bus terminal area disrupting road communication
for half an hour by blocking roads and then staging demonstrations
near the district administration office complex. They handed over a
memorandum to press home their three-point demands.
The demands included withdrawal of tax, ending discrimination by
fixing lowest price of ten-stick cigarette pack at least Tk 50 and
forming wage board for bidi workers fixing lowest salary Tk52 for
making 1,000 sticks of bidi.
The workers union claimed the bidi industries were providing
employment to more than 4 million people and urged the government to
introduce a tax policy free of discrimination to keep the industry
Pronab Chandra Devnath, president and Halim Howladar, secretary of the
union while addressing the rally alleged that the National Board of
Revenue (NBR) was giving highest facilities to multinational cigarette
companies to destroy the bidi industries.
‘Smoking is dangerous for health, which is applicable for both bidi
and cigarettes. However, bidi is being discouraged while cigarette is
encouraged by providing different facilities,’ the bidi union leaders
Increase in taxes on bidi would hamper the sector including women
employment in different bidi factories, they claimed.
If the owners announce lay off of factories, citing the reason of
incurring losses due to the proposed extra tax on tobacco poducts,
then thousands of people will become job-less, said Bijoy Krishna Dey,
managing director of Karikar Bidi Factory of Barisal, one of the
largest bidi factories in the country.
The bidi workers and factory owners demanded immediate withdrawal of
the proposed extra tax on handmade tobacco products and end of
discriminations with machine-made cigarettes.
(Barisal Correspondent)

Leave a Reply