While the entire country has come to a standstill with the suspension of all kinds of activities in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, brick kiln workers in Nabinagar upazila of Brahmanbaria are passing busy time in collecting soil and making bricks.
They have no time to think about the impacts of coronavirus as they have to work to support their families.During a recent visit to several brick kilns, this UNB correspondent found hundreds of workers busy in their work at their respective brick kilns. They even did not wear any safety gear to protect them from getting infected with the virus.
The workers were found working with bare hands without using any masks. Some were seen taking soil with trolleys and dumping it in the brick field for making bricks.
Talking to UNB, they said they have to work here from 6am to 5pm every day and those who are engaged in baking bricks are working maintaining shifts.
Asked about coronavirus, a worker said, “If we don’t work, what’ll we have? How’ll we buy our daily essentials? If don’t work, our families will starve. If we stay home for one day, we’ve to starve for that day.”
Another worker said he works at the brick kiln for six months – from Kartik to Baishakh in Bangla calendar -- and pulls a van for the rest of the year.
Pradip Barman, owner of ‘Sumon Bricks’, said 50 workers work in each brick field in their locality and most of them have been paid in advance and some are paid at weekend.
The daily wage of a worker is Tk 400 but those who are tasked with making bricks are getting more, he said.Most of them work at brick fields for earning extra money, Pradip claimed.
Asked about the holidays declared by the government across the country to prevent the coronavirus spread, he said the government neither served any notice to them nor asked them to suspend the work.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Nabinagar Mohammad Masum said keeping production on at brick kilns under such situation is an offence.
He also said steps will be taken after investigation.