May Day observed with call for fair wage, end to job cut, lay off
Workers in Bangladesh demanded fair wage, freedom of trade union and an end to job cut and lay off amid the coronavirus pandemic as they celebrated International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, on Friday. Many labour organisations and left political parties organised street protests as well as online discussions in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country marking the day amid countrywide shutdown the government imposed to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.
The ruling Awami League and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party did not arrange any programme to mark the day. Different trade unions hoisted red flags atop their offices. They demanded 8-hour working day as many factories in Bangladesh, in violation of the labour law, continued engaging workers for more time without pay. › Job cut, layoff, rights violation mar May Day observance They also demanded an end to oppression on workers, workplace safety, job security, housing facility, health insurance and pension as prescribed by the law. Labour leaders said that May Day taught them that workers’ rights were not established in any country of the world without united movement.
They said that a huge number of workers in both formal and informal sectors were now facing termination amid the world pandemic and even the factory managements were not paying their wages. The Communist Party of Bangladesh, Garment Trade Union Centre, Socialist Workers Front and Textile Garments Workers’ Federation held rallies at Paltan and in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka. Addressing the rally in front of Mukti Bhaban at Purana Paltan, Garment Trade Union Centre president Montu Ghosh demanded that the government must publish gazette as per Section 324 of the Labour Act banning all layoff and termination of workers for six months during the pandemic.
He also demanded cancellation of the decision for 40 per cent wage cut for apparel workers for April. Montu urged the government to ensure sound health of workers, fair wages, rationing, accommodation, right to freedom of trade union and a democratic labour law to uphold the workers’ rights. At a rally maintaining social distancing in front of National Press Club, Socialist Labour Front leaders demanded food support to all the jobless workers, ration of all essential commodities at a rate enjoyed by the army personnel, treatment of coronavirus-infected workers and adequate compensation for death from COVID-19.
Front president Rajekuzzaman Ratan presided over the rally. Jatiya Sramik Federation president Quamrul Ahsan and general secretary Amirul Haque Amin also demanded an end to all the social discrimination. Textile Garments Workers’ Federation leaders at a rally in front of the National Press Club alleged that the opening of apparel factories without following health safety rules would be suicidal and demanded payment of wages and festival allowances before Eid-ul-fitr. Federation president Abul Hossain presided over the rally.
Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati leaders from different industrial areas organised an online protests in front of their houses holding placards reading their demands ‘prevent coronavirus spread, resist social discrimination, provide 100 per cent wage,’ and ‘workers’ lives are precious too, take responsibility, provide security and 100 per cent wage’. New Age Correspondent in Jashore reported that Jatiya Sramik Federation, Jatiya Ganatantrik Sramik Federation, Samajtantrik Sramik Front and Bangladesh Sramik Karmachari Federation formed an online human chain in Jashore marking the day.
They said that the factory managements and the government should bear the responsibility for the consequences of opening apparel factories amid COVID -19 pandemic. New Age correspondent in Barishal reported that the day was observed in Barishal with procession, human chain and distribution of food by Socialist Party of Bangladesh. Barishal district unit of CPB formed a human chain.