Oppression of jute workers in Khalispur
Workers at four government-owned jute mills have been demonstrating since April 2007 for due wages and salary at Khalispur in Khulna. Since 15 April 2007, the agitated workers have closed production at all the mills. Due to this, clashes between them and law enforcers were frequent. On 21 April, police shot at a demonstration organised by the mill workers, arrested about 70 workers and filed various complaints against them. According to reports, arrest warrants have been issued against several thousand workers. Numberless workers have hidden themselves to avoid arrest.
Instead of paying the wages due to them, the government has been oppressing the jute mill workers on the pretext of state of emergency. The law enforcers have been ransacking the homes of workers on the ground of conducting searches. Four cases were filed against the workers on 17 April with Khalispur Police Station, on 18 April with Doulatpur Police Station and on 21 April again with Khalispur Police Station. Several thousand jute mill workers have been implicated in these cases.
The main reasons for the movement are the government’s decision to denationalize the jute mills and due salary. Local administrations are directed to stop the movement. The workers are also tortured by the Collective Bargaining Agents (CBA leaders). Such unsound situation may spark a great human disaster. The government must:
1. stop violation of human rights of the workers by the local administration
2. withdraw all cases against the workers and release all arrested workers
3. pay all due wages to the workers
4. recruit further the dismissed workers
5. take action against corrupt leaders and local brokers
6. investigate the attack on women and children and punish the offenders.
The interim caretaker government must take proper steps and initiate to ameliorate the sufferings of these workers.
Odhikar and UBINIG
6 May 2007