Garment workers, police clash over decision to shut factory in Gazipur

The workers pelted brickbats towards at least four factories during the protest from 8 am to 10 am on Tuesday at Tongi’s BSIC Industrial Area. Three of the factories later gave the workers a day off.

The protesters from Tivoli Apparels Ltd began the demonstration by blocking the road in the morning, Gazipur Police Deputy Commissioner Md Iltutmish said.

“At one point they began vandalising at least four factories. The police fired 30 shotgun rounds, 10 stun grenades and 6 tear shells to scatter them,” he said.

As many as 10 workers and five members of the police were wounded in the incident.

According to Sanowar Hossain, a worker at Tivoli Apparels, a production manager harassed a female labourer from the plant’s finishing section on Jan 29. As the matter came to light, the workers went on strike and put forth a 12-point demand to the authorities.

Despite coming to work on the two following days, the labourers refrained from working and, subsequently, the factory authorities hung a notice announcing an indefinite closure.

This triggered outrage among the workers and they took to the streets.

“The workers called on others from nearby factories to join them. When their call was ignored, they threw brickbats at Radisson Apparels Ltd. The police then dispersed them,” said Tongi (East) Police SI Md Yeasin Arafat.

Later the workers gathered at Sumi Apparels Ltd, RBSR Fashions Ltd and BSIC Fakir Market and clashed with the police.

“It was then that police fired shotgun bullets, threw stun grenades and tear gas shells to disperse them,” the police officer said.

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The owners of Sumi Apparels, RBSR Fashions and Radisson Apparels then declared Tuesday as a day off for the workers, he said. Police have been deployed in the area and the situation is now under control.

Mosharraf Hossain, an owner of Tivoli Apparels, said: “The production manager was sacked as soon as we received complaints of misconduct against a worker. But the workers presented some unreasonable claims, which go against the Labour Act.”

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