Unrest at EPZs over wage

December 9, 2010

Ten officials of a garment factory in Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) were injured as workers of the factory agitating over wages yesterday beat them up, and production was suspended.

And in Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DPEZ), production remained suspended at a factory yesterday as a section of workers abstained from work over wage-related demands.

Three of those injured in the CEPZ — Production Manager Tapan Das, assistant production manager and Line-in-Charge Jamal Hossain–were rushed to Chittagong Medical College Hospital. The others were sent to the CEPZ hospital.

According to a report from our Chittagong bureau, the CEPZ incident took place at Korean garment factory GS Haewae as its workers protested “reduction” of their wages.

But the situation came under control following a meeting between the factory management and the workers around 2:00pm. The management assured the workers of meeting several demands including payment of basic wages at the previous rates.

The workers said their wages decreased as the management adjusted their previous extra allowances with the new pay structure that came into effect on November 1.

Witnesses said around 3,000 workers demonstrated

demanding payment of basic wages at the previous rates, suspension of seven senior officials who were in the wages review committee and increased food allowance.

Injured Line-in-Charge Jamal Hossain said the workers got reduced wages since the factory management decreased their basic wages under the new pay structure.

When contacted, CEPZ General Manager SM Abdur Rashid admitted that basic wages of the workers have been reduced.

Following negotiations with the workers, they agreed to join duty today (Thursday), he said.

Police and Rab personnel were deployed at the site.

In the DPEZ in Savar, a section of workers of Hi-Tech Sportswear Limited resorted to abstention from work yesterday morning, causing suspenstion of production.

Asked about this, a high official of the factory said those who have been working for a long time started the demonstration as comparatively new workers are getting more benefits than them (old workers) as per the new pay scale implemented last month.

Seeking anonymity, he said they are demanding a “balanced payment” based on their long experience, and cancellation of grading system in payment of their wages.

“The management is continuing negotiations with the workers so that the factory could be reopened today [Thursday],” the official said.

At least 9,000 workers are employed in the factory, he mentioned.

The workers began agitation on Tuesday and did not join work yesterday morning.

Savar Circle Assistant Superintendent of Police Monwar Hossain said the workers stopped work due to dissatisfaction over payment. No case was filed in this connection, he added.

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