The storied Adamjee Jute Mills have been shuttered since 2003, following the prescription of the World Bank and other donors. After all, it is easy to close down mills and factories in the interests of efficiency and productivity if one ignores the human toll and looks only at the bottom line.
The state jute sector limps on in the Khulna-Jessore belt, once a busy industrial corridor, now sadly reduced to a shadow of its former self. Seven out of eight state-owned jute mills remain idle for want of cash to buy raw jute and keep the wheels turning.
Workers and employees pass their days in tremendous hardship as the cash-strapped public sector mills are unable to pay them for months at a time. A good number of the workers have already sent their families back to their village homes as there is no way to provide for them.
The workers number about 19,000 regular labourers while about 6,000 are working on temporary basis in the eight mills in the region. The temporary workers are kept on a "no work, no pay" basis.
For every mill or factory that is shut down, thousands of workers and their families lose their means of livelihood. For every jute mill that sits idle or is unable to pay its workers, thousands suffer insecurity and uncertainty, wondering how they will scrape together enough to feed themselves and their families.