- The government closed 25 jute mills in 2020
- Workers of 20 jute mills have got their dues under golden handshake policy
- Workers of Khalishpur Jute Mills, Daulatpur Jute Mills, National Jute Mills, KFD Jute Mills and RR Jute Mills were not included under the policy as they were appointed on a daily basis
- They have not got around 90% of the other facilities either
Labour leaders of five state-owned jute mills that were closed down in 2020 have called for protest movements as around 15,000 workers of these mills have not got their due payments yet.
According to people concerned, the government shut down 25 jute mills in a circular issued on 30 June 2020. Workers of 20 jute mills have already got their due payments under a golden handshake policy.
However, workers of five jute mills – Khalishpur Jute Mills, Daulatpur Jute Mills, National Jute Mills, KFD Jute Mills and RR Jute Mills – were not included under the policy as they had been appointed on a daily basis.
The authorities said these workers were excluded due to legal obligations.
Labour leaders say workers who had a contract on a daily basis did not get wage commission arrears like the other workers when the mills were in production. Neither have they received around 90% of other facilities.
Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) failed to address the issue. In this situation, there is no other way to meet the demand except through a protest movement, they said.
According to sources, these five jute mills were declared closed in 2007 due to continuous losses. They were reopened in 2011 as per the election promise of the Awami League government. At the time, about 15,000 workers were employed in the mills on a daily basis.
Monir Hossain Moni, president of Khalishpur and Daulatpur Jute Mills Joint Factory Committee, said, "According to the labour laws, a worker cannot be called a daily basis worker after working for 3 months and 13 days. According to international labour laws, two-thirds of permanent workers are required to maintain a heavy industrial factory."
However, the BJMC has said it does not see any possibility of the dues of workers hired for the five jute mills on a daily basis in 2011 being paid even though the due payments of the permanent and substitute workers of other mills have been paid in cash and savings certificates under the golden handshake policy.
Haider Jahan Faras, chairman of BJMC, told The Business Standard that he cannot say anything over the issue without the permission of the ministry.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian wrote a letter on 6 October to the Prime Minister regarding the due payments of the five jute mills workers. She appealed for golden handshake benefits, including arrears for the workers hired on a daily basis at these five mills, to be given to them on humanitarian grounds.
The affected workers of these five mills applied to various government offices, including the BJMC and ministry of textile and jute, for their demand to be met. On 10 October, the Joint Factory Committee of Khalishpur and Daulatpur Jute Mills also sent letters in this regard to different offices, including the ministry of labour and employment.
According to official documents, 15,000 workers of five jute mills have been demanding their due payments, including arrears as per the gazette of the Wage Commission 2015, benefits of the golden handshake, 60 days' wages for the notice period, festival bonus and two months' salaries of the lockdown period.
Labour leaders say they will go through the legal process to get their dues besides engaging in protest movements if the authorities do not meet their demand.
They complained that the authorities are trying to deprive them of their due payment by tagging them as daily workers who were appointed in 2011 at a lower wage and helped the factories obtain profits.
If the due payments of these 15,000 workers are not paid, the jute sector could come up against new instability, they warned.