Labour Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain has marked uncontrolled hikes in house rent as the key reason behind demonstrations by workers.
“House rent is being increased twice even thrice in a year. This is sparking unrest among the workers,” the Minister told journalists following a meeting with local and foreign buyers and business leaders at the Secretariat on Wednesday.
“The government is concerned more about regulating the rent instead of an increase in their salaries at the moment, since raising their pay would only lead to further hikes in rent.”
Deputy Commissioners have already been instructed to enforce the Rent Regulatory Act strictly in their areas, Mosharraf added.
“They are already on it and will take steps if rents are hiked illegally or unfairly. If needed, they will run mobile courts.”
The minister rejected the claim by US Ambassador Dan W Mozena that the buyers from his country were worried about the condition of the RMG sector in the country.
Following the series of violence that broke out in Ashulia last month, the ambassador warned that if such situation prevailed, they would not want to risk continuing business here.
Hossain said, “Some are thinking that the conditions are very unfavourable to continue business. However, I have talked to buyers. They do not think that it is impossible to continue business. Instead, they think it is very much possible.”
However, the minister said that the government would not sit idle about labour unrests and would take steps.
Terming the workers’ concern over house rent as ‘a humane problem’, the minister said that the government has allocated Tk 1 billion for building dormitories for the workers. The factory owners would be able to take loans from the fund, supervised by the central bank, at one percent interest to address the housing problem of workers.
The government has also taken steps to initiate food ration system for workers. The Food Division has already taken steps to this end and would start the process as soon as possible.
Hossain also addressed the murder of labour leader Aminul Islam and said, “Aminul is not the only person who was killed in the country, others were killed too. The government is trying to solve all murder cases with the same priority. The killers of the Saudi official have already been nabbed. Aminul’s killers would also be brought to justice once they are arrested.”