Khulna District Bidi Workers' Union and Employees' Unity Parishad staged a demonstration today at the divisional Customs, Excise and VAT office to press home their six demands, including the prohibition of counterfeit bidis.
Thousands of bidi workers gathered in front of the Khulna Customs, Excise and VAT Office on Thursday (17 November) morning and demanded a fair increase in salaries.
Besides, their demands include stopping revenue evasion on all bidis as well as issuing licenses without verification (online), reducing the duty on bidis, eliminating 10% income tax on bidis, increasing the price of cigarettes to sustain the bidi industry and workers, prohibiting the issuance of bidi factory licences without site inspection and taking legal action against counterfeiters.
Among others, Bangladesh Bidi Workers Federation general-secretary Abdur Rahman, joint-secretary Harik Hossain, Anower Hossain spoke at the programme.
The speakers said that millions of workers who are disadvantaged and underprivileged make a living by working in the bidi-manufacturing industry.
"The country's obsolete labour-intensive industry is being destroyed by conspiracies of foreign multinational companies," they said, alleging that these companies smuggle thousands of crores of Taka by manufacturing the product which poses dreadful health risks.
"Some corrupt local officials are taking advantage of foreign multinational companies and imposing excessive taxes forcing bidi-makers to shut down factories and businesses," they further said.
The speakers at the demonstration also urged the customs authorities to take necessary steps to put an end to unlawful bidi manufacturers and counterfeit bidis.