They also threatened to launch a nationwide mass protest after 24 January
Jute mill workers and employees urged the government to modernise the state-owned jute mills, reopen seven jute mills and eight textile mills, and settle payment of six months' arrears.
Jute-Yarn and Textile Workers Employees Sangram Parishad announced their demands at a press conference at Dhaka reporters' unity on Monday.
Leaders of the platform also threatened to launch a countrywide mass protest after 24 January, if their demands are not met before then.
Reading out the written statement, Kamrul Ahsan, a leader of the platform, said jute products have a huge demand potential worldwide. Bangladesh and India are the two major producers in this industry. However, India has no surplus for export after meeting domestic demand.
Therefore, Bangladesh has a potential to capture the international market. The local and international demand for Bangladeshi jute products computes to five lakh tonnes, against the country's existing production capacity of 3.50 lakh tonnes.
"Once the government modernises the state-owned jute mills and reopens the closed ones, we can set a production goal of 9 lakh tonnes, which will help us to capture the international market," he said.
Sahidullah Chowdhury, convener of the platform, alleged, "According to the World Bank, some bureaucrats, who are part of a shadow government, are trying to privatise and then gradually shut down the state-owned mills. But it has already been proven that private jute mills are not capable of fulfilling domestic demand. It is a conspiracy to destroy our state-owned employment sectors.''
"If domestic demand for jute products is met and its export potential is missed, it would be suicidal for the industry, the economy and the nation,'' he added.
Joint conveners of the platform Kamal Ahmed and Mashiuddaula, Aslam Khan, Abul Kalam Azad, Md Anwar, Kishore Roy, and other leaders also were present.