Law enforcement agencies have identified the culprits who provoked a storm of protest from readymade garments (RMG) workers demanding minimum wage hike, payment of arrear and several other demands in recent months. Sources in the home ministry yesterday told The Independent that the government has directed several intelligence and law enforcement agencies to take legal action against those involved in instigating the workers to resort to vandalism and destruction of factory equipment and vehicles in the name of protest.
Addressing the issue, commerce minister Tipu Munshi said to reporters that a certain quarter has incited the RMG workers and egged them on to destructive activities. “These culprits, supported by a certain political party, conspired to damage the RMG sector, one of the largest export sectors in the country. Law enforcement agencies have identified these culprits. Appropriate action will be taken against those guilty soon,” he added.
However, home ministry officials did not reveal the names of those involved in triggering the violence under the guise of the RMG workers’ movement.
According to sources, several leading workers have already been identified as grassroots leaders and activists of various
political parties who were behind the violent demonstrations. Cases have been filed against unidentified individuals on charges of damaging public properties, obstruction of government work, and disruption of daily life.
The garments workers demanded that the monthly wage be hiked from Tk. 5,300 to Tk. 8,000 for the seventh grade in line with the notification of the government gazette published last year. The new structure has been put into effect from December 1. But workers’ wages in other grades were not raised at the same rate.
The salary hike of entry-level workers was more than that of their seniors who have been working for more than seven years. Some officials concerned suspect that a certain quarter tried to use the workers’ movement to discredit the current dispensation following the Awami League’s landslide win in the 11th general election.
The major difference in the salary hike was also apparent in the third and fourth grades as their salaries were not hiked like that of the entry-level workers, the disgruntled workers alleged.