Over 500 workers of the Kaniz garments blocked off the Mohakhali-Tejgaon Link Road yesterday morning demanding withdrawal of termination and five percent yearly increment
Along with other garment workers, Kawsar too went on a two-day general holiday from Monday.
But his return to the workplace after the vacation was not as pleasant as others'. When he went to resume the work yesterday morning, he saw he had been clipped from the job.
Kawsar was among those 80 workers who were thrown out yesterday of their garment factory – Kaniz Garments – located at the Mohakhali-Tejgaon Link Road area in the capital.
In protest against their termination without any prior notice, more than 500 workers of the garment factory blocked off the Mohakhali-Tejgaon Link Road for about half an hour yesterday morning.
Soon, workers from adjacent garment factories joined them in the agitation, bringing the traffic to a complete halt on the road.
A severe traffic congestion erupted on the nearby roads at that time, especially putting the office-goers in serious troubles.
The agitating workers demanded the immediate withdrawal of the "illegal" termination and the five percent annual increment to the workers of the Kaniz Garments. Around 3,500 workers work in the factory.
Sources said there had been an unrest among the workers for the last few days because the authorities concerned did not pay them any increment this year although they assured workers of it. Amid such a situation, the factory declared a general vacation on February 10-11.
"I have been working in this factory for five years. We placed some logical demands before the authorities, but they replied us with the termination," said Kawsar.
He threatened to continue their protest until the authorities do not withdraw their decision of removing the workers.
Another worker, wishing anonymity, said the factory authorities declared the general vacation after sensing the growing unrest among workers. After workers came back to resume their work, they saw a letter pasted on the factory's notice board terminating 80 of them.
"However, we did not carry out any vandalism during the protest. The factory owner promised to pay us five percent yearly increment. We just demanded our payment," the worker added.
According to the notice, the authorities met with garment workers and trade union leaders at the BGMEA office in the wake of the recent worker unrest.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed among the respective parties in the meeting. Based on the MoU and in the interest of the company, 80 workers were terminated from service under Bangladesh's labour law, the factory claimed in the notice.
The factory however promised to pay wages of 120 days in compensation to the removed workers as per the labour law. They also urged the 80 workers to collect the money from the BGMEA office on February 18.
The factory will open today and all workers, except for the dismissed ones, can join their work, according to the notice.
Ali Hossen, the officer-in-charge of Tejgaon Industrial Police Station, said police reached the spot immediately after the protest began. "We convinced the workers and brought them back to their factory premises."
"We are trying to ease the situation by talking to the factory owner," he added.
When contacted, BGMEA Assistant Secretary Abul Hossein claimed two groups of workers were engaged in a quarrel over a picnic arrangement. The factory owner terminated all of those who were involved in that incident.