Violence should never be the means of protests
The violence that has been witnessed, in the wake of the announcement of the latest wage board for RMG workers must be effectively addressed. In the new wage board, the monthly wage in the seventh grade for the entry-level workers has been increased to Tk 8,000 from Tk 5,300.
Responding to the agitations, the government announced the establishment of a tripartite committee consisting of ten representatives from government, garment owners and union officials. The committee immediately held an emergency meeting and called on workers to present their grievances on the new pay structure within a month. The meeting was presided over by State Minister for Labour and also involved the Commerce Minister.
Most observers believe that the increase is quite reasonable. However, if workers of other grades find it discriminatory, we request the disgruntled workers to peacefully settle the issue, hold meaningful dialogues for reconsideration and readjustment with concerned government authorities. Indeed, there is room for relevant authorities to consider the demands of the workers. All issues can and should be resolved through discussion.
We believe that preventing ordinary people from going about their regular affairs to press for demands cannot be justified and tolerated. Violent strikes have outlived its utility and purpose. This sort of anarchy must not be allowed to prevail in an independent nation with a democratic set-up.
On one hand, violent agitation cannot be the means for staging protests. While on the other, workers' demands should also be given consideration in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders. It must be ensured that the Bangladeshi garment sector remains competitive in the international market.
Not to forget, that the booming garment industry has been a pillar of the current government's economic development strategy for Bangladesh, where annual per capita income has nearly tripled since 2009 to $1,750. Workers, factory owners and policy planners must jointly function so to ensure stability of the sector.