The vessel workers under the banner of Bangladesh Lighterage Workers’ Union called the strike with a demand of implementing the newly announced wage structure.
The strikers said that a minimum wage of Tk9,650 was fixed after a tripartite meeting held in November last year.
The strikers issued an ultimatum to the vessel owners to implement the revised wage structure by February 13.
Jahangir Alam, vice president of Bangladesh Lighterage Workers Union said: “We called for the work abstention programme as the vessel owners were not implying the revised wage structure.”
Water Transport Cell (WTC) coordinates the activities of individually owned vessels in Chittagong and its nearby areas.
According to the WTC sources, around 60 lighter vessels were stranded with different types of goods at Karnaphuli River due to the work abstention programme.
Ataul Kabir Ranju, joint secretary of Water Transport Cell (WTC) confirmed the Dhaka Tribune that the operations were halted because of the strike.
However, the activities of fishing trawlers and oil tankers remained regular in Chittagong.
Terming the strike as wildcat, Khorshed Alam, senior vice-president of Bangladesh Cargo Vessel Owners Association (BCVOA) said that they were willing to comply with the revised wage structure for the vessel workers.
“We asked some time for the full implementation of the revised wage structure. A faction of the workers’ organisation also agreed with us and announced to postpone their strike till February 20,” said the leader of the association which operates at least 2,100 lighter vessels all over the country.