Bangladesh Bidi Workers Federation leaders have warned that they will not allow pushing 20 lakh bidi workers and 10 lakh tobacco farmers to joblessness. The warning came at a conference of the Bangladesh bidi worker delegates at Mohanagar Nattamancha auditorium in the capital on Saturday morning.
About 30 thousand workers from different Bidi factories took part in the conference organised by Research and Development Collective (RDC) and Bangladesh Bidi Workers Federation.Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque MP was scheduled to attend the conference as the chief guest, but he could not. He, however, expressed solidarity with the bidi workers and tobacco farmers in a phone call to the organisers during the conference.
“I’m declaring solidarity with the worker delegates at the Bidi workers conference. I’ll draw the prime minister’s attention to the matter in Parliament,” he said.
Former president of Bangladesh Trade Union Center Manzurul Ahsan Khan was the special guest at the event. “We’re involved in the Bidi workers’ movement since the Pakistan period. We’re expressing solidarity with this fair movement of workers.”
General secretary of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) MP Nazmul Haque and Bangladesh Awami League MPs Fazlul Haque and Quazi Rosy also spoke at the conference. Quazi Rosy said: 'There should be no discrimination [against bidi industry]. I want to see the same rules for bidi and cigarette.”
Dhaka University professor and RDC chairperson Mesbah Kamal was the key speaker at the conference.
He said the bidi industry should not be destroyed without alternate job arrangements for those involved in the sector. “Bidis and cigarettes both are harmful to health. If we need to shut tobacco industry, we need to shut both bidi and cigarette factories at the same time.President of Bangladesh Bidi Workers Federation Amin Uddin BSc presided over the conference.
General secretary of the federation MK Bangali, joint convenor Abdur Rahman, organising secretary Harik Hossain, other central leaders and workers representatives also spoke on the occasion.
Workers leaders announced that they will organise a large programme on May 24 in Rangpur. They said they will enforce ceaseless strike and road blockade programme to press their demands.
Workers representatives from Kismat Bidi of Sirajganj, Harin Bidi of Rangpur, Maya Bidi and Mohini Bidi of Mymensingh, Nawab Bidi, Haque Bidi and Montu Bidi of Tangail, Pocha Bidi of Bhairab, Koniika Bidi and Karigor Bidi of Borishal, Panga Bidi, Gopal Bidi and Sonali Bidi of Khulna, Masud Bidi, Akij Bidi and Aziz Bidi of Jashore, Lateem Bidi of Gaibandha, Shahin Bidi of Brahmanbaria, Sadiq Bidi of Madaripur and Sharif Bidi of Bogura joined the conference.