Vol. 5 Num 1050 Wed. May 16, 2007  
Front Page

Kamal vows to rally for RMG woman workers without umbrella

Renowned lawyer and politician Dr Kamal Hossain yesterday said he will stage sit-in demonstrations in front of garment factories if he sees woman garment workers coming out of any factory without umbrella during rain.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion on workers-owners relationship in garment factories, Dr Kamal urged the trade union organisations to be united as they suffer the most due to incompetent and dishonest leadership.

Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) organised the roundtable at the auditorium of the Institutions of Diploma Engineers.

Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of Citizens for Good Governance, conducted the discussion where labour leader Shirin Akhter, Justice Quazi Ebadul Haque and barrister Jennifer Jabbar spoke.

A video film directed by Mirza Hasan describing the plight of garment workers was screened at the event.

Kamal said wherever workers became united, a revolution took place and the society changed. He, however, opposed the workers' slogan for setting fire, saying the workers should get their dues without demonstration or raising slogans.

He hoped that the owners of garment factories will implement the minimum wages by June 30 as they promised.

Kamal criticised the garment owners for implementing various demands only after international pressure. "It is the duty of our garment owners to improve the conditions of the workers but we often see that they implement demands only after international pressure," he said.

Justice Ebadul pointed out that the garment owners show huge equity in their factories, but actually their share is very negligible. As they set up factories with bank loans, they become social businesses.

Referring to the government decision of taking action against garment factories that do not pay salaries to the workers, he said nobody wants to comply with the law.

Shirin Akhter said the workers' labour is purchased only after curtailing their fundamental rights. The mentality of purchasing labour at cheaper price should also be changed, she added.

She called upon the workers to be united under a common platform just like the owners.

She said it is sad that the first attack of the current drive against corruption came on the poor labourers through eviction of slum dwellers.

Badiul Alam said although there are two sides in the garment sector--owners and workers--the whole economy of the country works in favour of the owners only. The benefit of devaluation of the local currency also goes to the owners' pockets.