But the workers have threatened to continue their strike until their demands are met
Cargo vessel owners have termed the workers' demands as "irrational" and clearly stated they will never meet them, further accusing them of calling the strike to destabilise the sector.
But the workers have threatened to continue their strike until their demands are met, hinting that the deadlock created in cargo transportation on waterways may not be lifted anytime soon.
"Their demands are irrational and, no matter what happens, we will never meet them," said Bodiuzzaman Badal, senior vice president of the water vessel owner's organisation – Bangladesh Inland Waterways Passengers Carrier Association (BIWPCA).
He also said they had already accepted many of the workers' demands. "This time they declared a strike to create chaos in the country and put pressure on us."
The indefinite strike, called by eight organisations under the Bangladesh Noujan Sramik Federation (BNSF), began at midnight on October 20 to press home their 11-point demands, including the implementation of the 2016 pay scale.
Other major demands include food and night allowance, issuance of appointment letters, identity cards and service books, and compensation of Tk10 lakh for any worker killed in workplace accidents. The strike has paralysed goods transportation on waterways.
Workers had met with vessel owners at the BIWTA building in the capital's Motijheel from Monday afternoon to midnight, to no avail.
"We raised our demands during the long discussion with the owners, but they did not accept any of them. So, we have gone on a strike," said BNSF Secretary-General Asikul Alam.
Md Khorshed Alam, joint secretary of the Bangladesh Naval Workers Federation, said they have also not received any assurances from the owners.
Md Isha Mia, president of Bangladesh Lighterage Workers Union, said the strike will continue until their demands are met.
Meanwhile, the strike has halted the unloading of goods at the outer anchorage in Chattogram port.
However, delivery of goods and containers, including container and cargo handling at the port's main jetty, river mooring and dolphin oil jetty and special berths remain normal, said Chattogram Port Authority Secretary Omar Farooq.
Mahbub Rashid Khan, executive director of Water Transport Cell, said 30-40 lighter ships under the cell are allotted daily at the outer anchorage. Goods unloading will be resumed when the strike is called off.