Jatiya Oikyafront, led by Dr Kamal Hossain, urged on Tuesday the government to back off from its decision to shut down state-owned jute mills, reports UNB.
In a statement, the top leaders of the alliance also said the government's decision seems to have been part of a blueprint for helping India reopen its dying jute mills in West Bengal by destroying Bangladesh's jute industry.
"Considering all the aspects, we strongly protest the government's decision. We urge the government to move away from such a decision to close down jute mills. We express our solidarity with the programmes of jute mill workers seeking annulment of the decision."
Gonoforum president Dr Kamal Hossain, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, standing committee member Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Rob) President ASM Abdur Rob, Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, Gonoforum General Secretary Dr Reza Kibria and former Dhaka University Professor Nurul Amin Bepari jointly issued the statement.
On Sunday, Textiles and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi said the state-owned Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) will be halting operations to stop its staggering losses.
He said around Tk 50 billion (5,000 crore) will be provided from the government budget in this connection and all the arrears of 8,954 workers who retired since 2014 will be cleared, he said, adding that all the overtime dues, PF fund and gratuity - highest 27 per cent - will be paid to the present workforce numbering 24,886.
The Oikyafront leaders said some 51,000 jute mill workers -- 24,886 permanent and 26,0651 listed temporary and daily-wage-based ones -- will lose jobs at this critical time of coronavirus if the government shuts the state-owned jute mills.
"This means a serious disaster is going to hit 0.25 million (2.5 lakh) people at least, including the workers and their family members. The decision comes at a time when several crores people are losing their jobs due to the dangerous onslaught by the coronavirus. The government is terminating people from their jobs instead of taking steps to create new jobs," the statement said.
Referring to Jute Secretary's assertion that the government had to incur a loss of Tk 106.74 billion (10,674 crore) over the last 48 years in the jute sector, the Oikyafront leaders said around Tk 520 billion (52,000 crore) has been handed over to some businessmen who are very close to the government as capacity charges without buying even a watt of electricity over the last 10 years.