State-owned jute mills sick for a decade

Sohel Hossain Patwary

15 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

State-owned jute mills under Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) are facing losses for the last decade, increasing the public jute sector’s dependency on government subsidy.

While the private jute mills are making profit substantially, the workers of state-owned jute mills are often on the streets demanding their wages and arrears.

A total of 25 jute mills operating under the Jute Mills Corporation are now facing uncertainty in face of workers demonstration.

According to the data of ministry of textiles and jute, BJMC incurred a loss an amount of Tk 395 crore in the eight months of the current fiscal.

Sources said BJMC faced a loss of Tk 396.97 crore in 2012-13 fiscal, Tk 513 crore in 2013-14 fiscal, Tk 729 crore in 2013-14 fiscal, Tk 656.81 crore in 2015-16 fiscal, Tk 481.51 crore in 2016-17 fiscal and Tk 466.22 crore in 2017-18 fiscal.

BJMC Officials said mismanagement, lack of skilled manpower, non-coordination between the capacity and operation activities, additional workers than necessity, CBA’s manipulation and lack of goodwill of authorities are the main factors behind the continuous losses of state-owned jute mills.

Now the situation stands at a point that BJMC continues to count losses and seeking special allocation from the government to cope with the losses.

As the workers are on street demanding their dues, sources at the ministry said BJMC has already sought special allocation from the government to tackle the situation.

BJMC chairman Shah Muhammad Nasim said they have already consulted with the ministers and trying to resolve the crisis.

He also said BJMC has long been depended on government subsidy to run the state-owned jute mills and efforts are underway to bring the jute mills in order.

In order to reduce the loss of jute mills, BJMC has already taken initiatives of modernizing and expansion of the mills. In the first phase, three jute mills will be modernized and the rest will be included in the process in phases, said BJMC chairman.

Bangladeshi jute and jute made products have a huge demand in many countries around the world, especially in Turkey, Middle East, India, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq and Thailand.

Markets in African countries are also a key destination for Bangladeshi jute products. The demand for sacks in rising from African countries like Sudan, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroon, Tanzania and Uganda.

Exporters said that a major portion of the export or 70 per cent of the country’s jute exports is done by the private sector.

The government has also been giving its efforts to bring back the golden days of the golden fibre of the country. Owing to the fact, jute and jute goods saw a solid shift in the overseas market, crossing the $1 billion export earnings during the last two years. It would be doubled if state-owned mills function smoothly, experts have said.

What brought workers to street

Jute mill workers of 25 mills are continuing their protest in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna and Jessore to press home their nine-point demand. The mill workers continued their indefinite countrywide strike for a second day on Tuesday.

Their key demands are salaries and allowances be paid, the wage commission be implemented, sufficient funds be allocated for the jute sector, sacked workers be reappointed, and appointments be made permanent.

The workers’ wages have been due for the past 11 weeks while other employees’ salaries are four months overdue.

On May 5, workers of 11 jute mills in Jessore, Khulna, and Dhaka started their three-hour work abstention. They also blocked roads and railways.

Later, on May 7, jute mill leaders held a meeting in Dhaka and decided to go on all-out indefinite strike from May 13.