Gloom hits export as off-dock strike continues
Exporters are in the soup with products they made around Christmas as transport workers continue a strike at KDS Logistics Ltd, one of 19 docks in the port town of Chattogram.
The strike continued for six straight days on Tuesday as 2,536 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) of export boxes worth around 650 crore piled up on the quay.
Restless transport workers said they were in talks with the private ICD, but apparently there was no solution in sight as the pier throws the blame on the union leaders who organized the movement for a multitude of demands including letters of appointment and tip.
Exporters ship their products to the docks where the items are loaded into containers, transported to the port of Chattogram and loaded onto container ships for overseas markets.
Export cartons blocked at KDS Logistics now contain mostly clothing and are destined for the European and American markets, said Khairul Alam Sujon, director of the Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association.
According to the association, 11 ships that were to carry the containers have already left the port of Chattogram from October 1 to 4 because the cargo did not reach the port from the quay.
Muntasir Rubayat, deputy vice president of shipping agent GBX Logistics, said two of the company’s ships with the containers were due to arrive at the port of Singapore on October 9. But the ships – SOL Hind and SOL Bangladesh – left Chattogram because the cargo could not be loaded onto the carrier ships.
“Businessmen are about to suffer a huge loss from the non-stop strike,” Rakibul Alam, vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA ).
He said the responsibility for the business loss lies entirely with KDS Logistics and the union leaders, and the situation will get out of hand if the issue is not resolved within a day or two.
KDS flouts the law and blames the workers
Some 200 truck drivers and 200 assistants from KDS Logistics Ltd went on strike on September 30 to assert their demands, including the issuance of appointment letters, gratuity and the setting of working hours.
Mainuddin, president of the Prime Mover Trailer Workers Union, said the 400 transport workers had worked at the wharf for 15 years. But they have neither an identity card provided by the employer nor a tip, which constitutes a flagrant violation of labor law.
Mainuddin said the workers had spoken to authorities about their rights on several occasions, but to no avail. “There are still talks going on, but a solution has not yet been found,” he noted.
According to the Labor Law-2006, an employer without providing an appointment document will not be able to recruit a worker. In addition, workers must be provided with identity cards.
Selim Rahman, Managing Director of KDS Group, said: “We are not supposed to issue ID cards to protesting workers since they do not belong to KDS Logistics.
He claimed that the company recruited the workers through a subcontractor.
Selim Rahman said: “Many protesting workers agreed to work under the banner of the entrepreneur. We are taking action to resolve the issues and hope that everything will be sorted out by tomorrow. [Wednesday]. “
Abdullah Al Shakib Mubarrat, deputy inspector general of the Factory and Establishment Inspection Department, told The Business Standard: “KDS ‘arguments regarding the rejection of the provision of workers’ identity documents and other benefits are not correct “.
Referring to the labor law, he said the main organization will be required to respond to requests even if workers are hired by a third party.
“KDS Logistics will have to ensure that workers’ demands are met,” he noted.
Movement to be further intensified: union leader
Union leader Mainuddin said the strikers would step up their movement until their demands were met.
“We will hold a sit-in before KDS Logistics on Wednesday. On October 7, the Prime Mover drivers of Chattogram will go on strike. If there is no solution even after that, there will be a national strike on October 8. “, he added.
Ruhul Amin Sikder, general secretary of Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (Bicda), said any failure to send goods to overseas markets on time would negatively impact Bangladesh’s overall export opportunities.