Date: Mon, 4 Aug 1997 21:47:32 -0400
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Sam Lanfranco <lanfran@YORKU.CA>
Subject: Bangladesh Worker's Nationwide Strike on 30th July 1997 (fwd)
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Date: Fri, 1 Aug 1997 00:03:32 +0000
From: Jagdish Parikh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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Successfull Countrywide General Strike of Workers and Employees of Bangladesh for 24 hours on 30 th July 1997 in Support of 8 Points Demand. After last moment negotiation between the government and trade union leaders failed countrywide strike of workers paralysed normal life. Workers of most of the state owned factories and also private sector employees in the capital city of Dhaka and its suburbs like Damra, Narayangonj, Tongi including the biggest Adamji Jute Mill employing 30,000 workers went on strike. Chittagong and Khulna port also stop working. Industrial belts around the port cities also closed down. Most of the roads transport like Buses and Truck, Railways and River transport workers were on strike. In some places like Khulna, port and industrial city it took the shape of "hartal", a complete stand still. Demonstrations were held all over the country. Strike was peaceful except a few clashes where several workers were injured.
SKOP united front composed of national Trade Unions of Bangladesh called for country wide general strike on 30th July in support of their 8 points demand.
SKOP had given ultimetum to Government and Employers association to accept the demand by 28 July to avoid the strike on 30th July. The 8 point demands are,fixation of national minimum wage of taka 3000 per month equivalent to less than 70 US dollars, implementation of wage commission award of '92 in private sector, to implement wage and pay commission awards on a uniform basis, stop disinvestment and retrenchment, start productions in closed-down factories, appropiate steps to overcome the crisis of industry, security of job and issuance of service books to all workers in private and public sector, living wage, to give permanent job and ensure security to those workers who had been working as temporary since a long time, release of arrested workers and withdrawal of false cases against them.
Dhaka 30th July 1997. 25 workers of garment factories mostly teen aged girls died and 150 received injuries during stampade in factories of Dhaka's Mirpur area. House in different storeys of a building thousand of workers rushed to go out when rumours of fire spread. During the stampade 25 workers died and many were badly injured.
Garments industry is a flourishing sector of Bangladesh economy which employs more than a million workers mostly teen-aged girls. Lack of living wage, leaves and holidays, 8 hour duty, workplace safety and other fascilities ensured by labour laws of the country and ILO convention ratified by the Bangladesh government has created a situation which can only be compared to slavery. Workers are locked up inside factories, compelled to work for 12 to 15 hours for earning about 20 US $ a month. In recent months about 200 garment workers were burnt to death caused by fire due to utter lack of work place safety. Trade Unions and political parties have strongly condemned the failure of employers and government to ensure implementation of work place safety regulations. Mujahidul Islam Selim, general secretary Communist Party of Bangladesh in a statement issue to the press said,"It is virtually a genocide which is being perpertrated on the working class."