Low wages, high risk, the workers are not benefiting from the movement

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SB-Sujon

Lalmonirhat Correspendent

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Eati Akter

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Hundreds of thousands of workers are engaged in stone crushing and stone loading and unloading at Burimari land port in Lalmonirhat.  Although the workers are at risk in this work, they are not getting comparable wages.  In addition to the health risks of the workers in this work, there is also the risk of death.  The workers protested several times to increase the wages, but they did not get any benefit.  Besides, the workers are deprived of fair wages as there is no alternative employment system in this region.
These workers, who have been deprived of their fair wages for a long time, formed a human chain on Burimari land port-Patgram highway for an hour and protested next to Burimari Bazar Mosque on Monday (May 1).  Samchul Huda, member of Burimari Sramik Kalyan Federation and President of Burimari General Workers Welfare Federation, Vice President Sajjad Hossain, Jamial Hossain, General Secretary Anwar Hossain etc. spoke in the rally.

Earlier at 11:00 am (May 1) workers circled the main road of Burimari land port in a colorful procession on the occasion of International Workers’ Day.  Later, general workers of Burimari Sramik Kalyan Federation organized a human chain and protest rally to get the fair rights and demands of common workers.  Thousands of workers participated in it.
The workers said that they were paid 400 taka for breaking stones from 9 am to 5 pm.  They have to struggle to run their families with this amount of wages.  Cannot contribute to children’s education expenses.  Can’t fulfill other needs of family members. They don’t get any additional benefits except wages in stone quarrying.
According to the sources of the United Workers Federation, 27 thousand workers are working on stone breaking and stone loading and unloading at Burimari land port of Patigram Upazila of Lalmonirhat.  About 20 percent of them are women workers.

Sohrab Hossain (50), a quarry worker at Burimari land port, said, ‘I have been working as a quarry worker for 10 years.  You have to work hard to do this.  There is a risk of contracting the fatal disease silicosis.  But wages are very low.  If there were alternative employment opportunities in this area, I would not have worked as a quarry worker.  I worked hard all day and got 400 taka.  Sometimes a lot of money goes to buy medicine.’

Noor Islam, owner of stone crushing machine at Burimari land port, said, “The number of workers in this region is much more than the demand.  As there is no alternative employment, the workers work in stone crushing at low wages.  Workers work on more than two thousand stone crushing machines.  12 to 25 workers are employed in each machine.  If other machine owners increase the workers’ wages, I will also increase the workers’ wages.’

Moniruzzaman Monir, General Secretary of Lalmonirhat Associated Workers Federation, said, ‘Work is being done to unite the quarry workers.  Bringing them to a platform to propose increase in labor wages to machine owners.  If the demands are not met, a movement will be formed.  At least 700 rupees per day wages will be demanded for stone crusher workers.

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SB-Sujon

Lalmonirhat Correspendent

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