The Azim Group management yesterday announced closure of its four sweater units in Chttagong for an indefinite period, fearing a massive labour unrest.
The workers of the units have been staging demonstrations for the last few days in a demand to raise the piece rate of making sweaters.
“Such unrest has been a regular feature in the last few months,” Rezaul Masud, senior assistant director of Industrial Police, Chittagong, told The Daily Star yesterday. He pointed to the fact that the piece rates fixable by factory owners vary on receipt of new export orders from buyers.
To press home their demand, at least 3,500 workers of two units of Global Specialised Garments Limited and two other units of Savar Sweater Limited -- all owned by Azim Group -- located on four different floors of the four-storied GKL Sweater Complex at Kalurghat industrial area took to streets yesterday.
Our Chittagong correspondent adds: A senior official of the group said the workers demonstrated inside the factories from 10am to 12pm.
To find out a solution, the management sat with law enforcers and BGMEA officials at around 3.00pm.
"But, it is not possible to increase the rate further as we have already negotiated with the buyers," said Uttam Kumar Nath, a deputy general manager of Azim Group.
"At last we have announced closure of the units for an indefinite period. But we continue parleys with the agitating workers to find how we can reopen those factories as soon as possible,” he said, regretting the workers' rigid attitude.
"We will disburse salaries and other benefits as per rules very soon," Nath said.
Some workers of one of the factories housed in the same building started demonstration at around 10.00am. Soon their colleagues in other units joined them and vanadalised lights and furniture on the ground floor, witnesses said.
When they took to the streets, Chandgaon police intercepted. At one stage, the protesters fled the scene.