Agitated RMG workers set fire to a factory of Ha-Mim Group at Savar and put barricade on Ashulia-Abdullahpur road Monday morning, protesting the killing of two fellow workers in the area in last two days, reports UNB.
Witnesses said some garment workers of Ha-Mim Group were working at the factory at Narsingpur from morning though all other garment factories in the area remained closed. Hearing the information, the unruly workers went to Ha-Mim Group factory and asked the workers there to stop work and join them.
On refusal, the agitated workers launched attack and set fire to the factory including the godowns at about 9:30am, said a spot account of the incident. The agitated workers also vandalised a car outside the factory.
On information, a firefighter unit from the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (EPZ) rushed to the spot at about 12:15pm and went into action to douse the blaze.
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police cordoned the area and tried to clear the road for other firefighters to reach the spot. But the unruly workers of different garment factories gathered at different points of the road and blocked 15-km area, halting the vehicular movement.
Two garment workers were killed in firing by Ansar and police, and about 200 others were injured on Saturday and Sunday during demonstration for wage hike. Some 200 garment factories remained closed for the three days due to the violence unleashed by the agitated workers.
An FE report adds: The apparel manufactures said an unscrupulous group is involved in the ongoing workers' unrest, aiming at destroying the country's highest foreign currency earning sector which is already hit by the ongoing global financial downturn.
They feared that the RMG sector would not be able to continue to keep its growth momentum in future, if the government failed to provide adequate security for the garment units.
"This type of violence in the country's industrial areas has started at a time when we're fighting against the global economic meltdown. This is nothing but an act to destroy our flourishing industry," Bangladesh Garments Manufactures and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Abdus Salam Murshedy said at a press conference at its headquarters.
The BGMEA president said the authority of S Suhi Industrial Park Ltd did not allow three of its workers to enter on June 27, who came without their identity (ID) cards. Soon the workers protested it and assaulted general manager of the factory Aminul Islam, which ultimately led to the unrest.
He said the RMG workers damaged some 150 factories at Jamgora, Ashulia and Norosinghopur areas during the last three days of violence in the name of protest.
"The loss due to the unrest would be about Tk 3.0 billion (300 crore), and damaged factories will need more then one year to restart their production," Murshedy said.
He said they met 60 leaders from 32 workers' associations on June 28 at the BGMEA Bhaban to ensure calm situation in the factories, and decided to give Tk 0.3 million to family members of those, who were killed during the unrest. They also agreed to explore the causes behind the incident by forming a tri-partite committee. Later the labour organisations assured them of withdrawing the protest.
"But the workers' unrest is still going on. We did everything to resolve the crisis on behalf of the RMG owners, but failed," he added.
The garments manufactures said the international buyers have started threatening them to withdraw their export orders, if this chaotic situation continues. They also urged media-men to produce reports based on correct information, so that the workers are not confused.
"The series of vandalism in the industrial areas shows failure of the government in providing security," Bangladesh Knitwear Manufactures and Exporters Association (BKMEA) president Fazlul Hoque said.
"It's not protest, but something else, which has been staged in the name of protest," he said.
The BKMEA president alleged that a part of the government, who want to foil the image of the government, might be involved with the so-called workers' protest, as it has been seen that the agitators have been damaging factories in front of the law-enforcers.
Former BGMEA president and lawmaker Tipu Munshi said the government assured him of increasing the number of law-enforcers deployed in the industrial areas by five times, and to give exemplary punishments to those responsible for the misdeeds on the basis of the report of a strong inquiry committee.
The apparel manufactures claimed that the clashes were not ensued over realising outstanding salary and other financial benefits. They urged all to extend their helping hands for saving the industry.