‘Calling strike without prior notice unlawful, action if river vessels strike not withdrawn through talks’: Shajahan Khan

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Dhaka, August 23: The government will sit with river vessel workers who went on a strike for indefinite period to press home their four-point demand and legal action will be taken soon against them if the issue is not solved through talks, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan said on Tuesday.

The river-transport workers went on countrywide indefinite strike from yesterday to meet their four-point demand including raising wages.

As a result, hundreds of passengers have suffered due to the strike.

Bangladesh Water Transport Workers’ Federation president Shah Alam said the waterway workers under the banner of Water Transport Workers’ Movement Committee declared the strike at zero hour of Tuesday.

Earlier in April 26, Vessel workers had enforced the indefinite strike on April 20 midnight and later the government formed a committee to finalise the new minimum wages – keeping the highest wage at Tk 10,000 and lowest at Tk 9,000 – for three classes of workers in the sector.

“I would like to urge the workers to withdraw their strike. Their demand could be solve through talks. But they must to call off their strike as it is “unlawful” that they enforced the stoppage suddenly without serving any prior notice,” the shipping minister told reporters at a media briefing held in the secretariat.

The government would hold talks with the river vessel workers who went on a strike for indefinite period to press home their four-point demand, he added.

Terming their on going strike as illegal, the minister said, “Legal action will be taken against vessel workers—if the problem is not solved through discussion.”

The shipping ministry has already solved the problems including raising the wages of vessel worker in April this year, Shajahan Khan said in reply to a query.

“We have nothing to do in this regard about the vessel workers issue. The matter is for the labour ministry. But, the issue had solved on April 26, where vessel workers wages had raised in three slabs—ka, kha and ga classes with fixing Tk 10,000 for ka class, Tk 9,000 for kha and Tk 8,000 for ga classes,” the shipping minister said.

According to the minister, a large number of vessel workers defied the strike call as 28 launches from different parts of the country reached to Dhaka this morning.