According to Hasan, 38, he is a worker in the mechanic's department of state-run Eastern Jute Mills Ltd. in Khulna district that has about 900 permanent and 2,500 seasonal employees-
“I couldn’t believe it when I first heard it from my colleagues. This is an inhuman decision amounting to kicking the stomach of poor workers,” The father of two told UCA News .
Frustration and fury have gripped workers since Jute and Textiles Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi made a surprising announcement on June 29 about shutting down all 26 jute mills under the state-run Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC).
The move has led to layoffs of about 57,191 employees like Hasan for whom the mills have been the only source of livelihood for years. Most workers are from the Khulna industrial area that houses nine large jute mills. The shutting down of the Jute Mills have also led to abrupt closing of hundreds of thousands of associated small businesses, vendors, shop keepers whose lives were directly linked to the mill industry. The closure has also deeply impacted the jute farming community amid this pandemic.
The gradual decline of state jute mills is the implementation of an anti-people scheme in place since 1990s, said Anu Muhammad, a professor of economics at Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka.
“Bangladesh had more than 70 state jute mills after 1971 independence and in the past, some 40 were closed down on the prescription of the World Bank and IMF. The biggest casualty was the closure of Admajee Jute Mills in 2002 that rendered 20,000 workers jobless.” Muhammad told UCA News. For the last 3 days heavily armed state security forces have been deployed to quell workers dissent as local tensions continue to intensify.
Oct 2, 2020, the disenfranchised workers will assemble in Khalishpur, Khulna, and demand –
Reopening of all state-owned jute mills
Fair compensation for all lost wages amid these enforced lockdowns
We appeal to everyone to step up and provide their support to the
Jute Mill workers in order for them to continue their struggle
for their right to work, compensation, and just wages!!!
Your support is greatly appreciated!