The workers said they renewed their protest program again as factory authorities did not take any steps to resolve the issue
Seventeen workers of a garment factory, who were terminated on April 15 for protesting the sexual harassment of a fellow worker, started an indefinite hunger strike in Bypal of Ashulia in Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka, on Monday.
According to sources, the workers gathered in the morning in front of Donglian Fashion BD Ltd to protest the sexual harassment and termination, but police barred them from holding the program there.
In the afternoon, they moved to the Bypal area and held their protest at the Shaheed Minar Chattar in front of Ashulia press club.
Sources said the seventeen workers, who work for Unit-1 of Donglian Fashion BD Ltd, began their hunger strike in front of the factory at 8am on Saturday, protesting their colleagues termination and sexual harassment.
Later , they withdrew their protest program when factory authorities gave them assurances of solving the problem.
The workers said they renewed their protest program again as factory authorities did not take any steps to resolve the issue.
The workers say the assistant production manager of the company, Zohirul Haque, sexually harassed an 18-year old female employee on March 18.
Two other employees of the factory witnessed the incident and told others, the workers said.
17 workers of the factory stayed away from work to protest the harassment by the garment official.
The authorities closed the company on April 9 for a few days following the protest, and as soon as the company re-opened on April 15, the 17 employees were terminated without clearing their arrears, the workers said.
Rafiqul Islam, Manager (Admin and Compliance) of the factory said: “We did not sack them. We have issued a show-cause notice asking the 17 employees why they disrupted the work environment, but they did not come to explain.”
About the harassment, he said factory authorities, upon investigation, found the incident was nothing serious.
Meanwhile, the female employee who was reportedly harassed does not want to file a police complaint fearing social stigma, said a coworker of the victim.
However, she wants justice for her fellow employees who lost their jobs protesting for her.
Regarding the incident, a leader of Bangladesh Textile and Garment Workers League, Sarwar Hossain, said they tried to discuss the matter with the owners of the factory.
Javed Masud, inspector (investigation) of Ashulia police station, said they received a complaint on April 20 in this regard.
"But no case has been filed yet, " he added.