Owners decide to ply launches despite workers’ strike
Launch owners have decided to continue river services despite the ongoing strike by water transport workers over a wage dispute.
The workers have not joined a scheduled meeting with the owners to sort out the wage dispute, one of the issues that led to the strike.
Bangladesh Noujan Sramik Federation called a strike with their 11-point
demand on Tuesday, disrupting launch services and leaving thousands of passengers in the lurch.
No vessels have left Sadarghat, a major river port that connects Dhaka with southern districts, since Tuesday morning.
"Many passengers had arrived at Sadarghat in the morning but they left as none of the launches was continuing operations," said Dinesh Kumar Saha, transport inspector in Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority.
Some south-bound launches docked at the Sadarghat pontoon after vessels owners vowed to run the services in the afternoon.
"The workers have not called off their strike but some launches have arrived at the pontoon," said BIWTA Inspector Dinesh
The MV Zahid 8, Ranadut, Farhan 3, 6, 10 and 12 and Rashed 1 and Tipu 7, bound for the south, were seen in the pontoon.
The launches will leave Sadarghat from 5.15pm onwards, Farook Hossain, managing director in MV Tipu-7, told bdnews24.com.
"The workers are not having any discussion with the owners or the government. They even didn't join the meeting at the Department of Labour on Monday," he said.
The workers will continue their strike despite the owners' decision to operate the water transports, said Mostafizur Rahman, captain of Mitali Launch.
"We're continuing our strike. Some of the owners have initiated to operate the launches with workers and jobless captains," he said.
"Let's see what happens."
The workers called the strike as the owners are not paying them following the wage structure fixed by the government, they said.
"The owners are not paying us following the wage structure fixed by the government. We have no increment, or any security," said Mostafizur.
"Therefore, we have stopped the operations of all kinds of water transports - passenger carriers, goods carriers and oil tankers. We'll continue our strike unless our demand is met."
The workers' 11-point demand includes the implementation of the 2016 wage structure fixed for the workers of passenger carriers, free food for all workers or food allowance, Tk 1 million in compensation for workers killed in accidents or in workplaces, appointment letter for all water transport workers and certification of master exam.