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Thursday, December 12, 2019 11:11:01 PM
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Save the jute mill workers

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13th-Dec-2019       
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AT least 29 jute mill workers fell ill from starvation and dehydration on Wednesday in Khulna, on the second day of the indefinite hunger strike being observed by thousands of workers --  and their family members -- of nine state-owned jute mills in the Khulna-Jashore industrial belt. Around 31,000 people took position in front of the main gates of their respective mills since Tuesday. The mills are riddled with excess labourers, a slump in exports, institutional incapacity and corruption. All these are issues that can be taken care of given the required political will is there. The firms can address the issue of corruption. Corruption and mismanagement in buying raw jute have been major reasons for higher production cost of jute products.
Reportedly, Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) does not buy raw jute during the peak harvesting season in July when one maund of jute sells at Tk 1,000 to Tk 1,200. It buys raw jute in the off-season during October-November, when the same quantity of jute sells at Tk 2,000 to Tk 2,200. Also, they buy from the shippers and hoarders, not directly from the farmers. This means that hundreds of crores of taka are wasted in simply purchasing raw jute. Needless to say, this happens because of inefficiency and corruption by a section of BJMC officials. Also, it doesn't make sense as to why the government would release the funds for buying jute when the season is over. So it's very easy to make the mills profitable--chop of corruption in the sector. The loss of crores in procurement is one of the major reasons why jute mills are perennially in the red. Though plastic bags are banned, the jute bags are rarely seen.
We don't understand why the government doesn't focus on an export oriented strategy to revitalise the sector.


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