The river vessel workers under the banner of Water Transport Workers’ Movement Committee went on an indefinite strike on Monday night to press home their several-point demands, including fixing of minimum salary for the river transport workers atTk 10,000 and stoppage of extortion on river routes.
To end the deadlock, a meeting was held at Dhaka’s Labor Department from 10:30am to 1.15. But no solution has come from the meeting.
After the meeting, Director of Labour Department FM Ashrafuzzaman told journalists that the standstill would end soon.
He said they would sit for an another meeting soon with the vessel workers as well as owners.
Chaired by Ashrafuzzaman, the meeting was attended by Launch Owners Association’s President Mahbub Uddin Bhuiyan and its Vice-President Badiuzzaman Badal.
Mahbub Uddin Bhuiyan said: “We have been discussing the issue for the last couple of days. We will inform the media about updates soon”.
Meanwhile, people had to suffer as river vessel workers continued their strike on the day for the third consecutive days.
People were seen crossing rivers taking alternative modes of transport, including speed boat and trawler, defying ban on the movement of small vessels on Meghna sanctuary.
The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) banned plying of all types of small vessels in around 3,000 km of Meghna and Tetulia Rivers in Bhola and Patuakhali for seven months.
The ban came into effect on March 15 and will continue till October 15, to avoid accidents in country’s southern coasts.
The ‘danger zone’ routes are Elisha-Mozu Chowdhurir Haat, Char Alexander-Daulatkhan, Char Alexandar-Mirzakalu, Char Alexandar-Aslampur, Manpura-Tajumuddin, Manpura-Shashibhushan, Dasmina-Char Kalmi of the Meghna River and Dasmina-Char Mantaj of Meghna and Tetulia Rivers.
Now people are availing unsafe manual or motorised boats, trawlers, speed boats to cross river, as a strike is going on, said Dr Mizanur Rahman, member-secretary Barisal Nagorik Parishad.
Moreover, cargo loading and unloading were suspended at Karnaphuli River and the outer anchorage of Chittagong port yesterday.
A total of 611 goods-laden lighter vessels were stranded across the country as loading and unloading of goods were halted following the strike, said port sources.
Lighter vessel workers previously enforced another wildcat strike on April 20 to press home a 15-point demand which included raising minimum wage.
After six days of deadlock, the strike was withdrawn after a meeting between Shipping Minister Md Shajahan Khan and cargo ship workers, where the wage was increased to Tk10,000 from Tk7,000.
Workers of oil tankers are not participating in current strike as the oil tanker owners’ association accepted the new wage, sources said.