Kushtia, April 02 (IU Correspondent/OurVoice): The Pabna Zila Bidi Mojdur Union on Saturday staged demonstration in the district town demanding to protect the bidi industry from the aggression of foreign multinational companies and to reduce tariffs on bidis in the budget for the next 2022-23 fiscal year.
Around one thousand workers under the banner of Pabna Zila Bidi Mojdur Union demonstrated in front of Pabna Town Hall premises to press home their demands.
Their demands are reduction of tariff on bidis in the forthcoming budget, withdrawal of 10 percent income tax on bidis, fair wages, enactment of protection law for bidi workers, ban on issuance of bidi factory licenses without on-site inspection and legal action against counterfeiters.
The labor leaders later handed over a memorandum to the Prime Minister through the Deputy Commissioner of Pabna.
Harik Hossain, joint-secretary of Bangladesh Bidi Sramik Federation presided over the demonstration.
Reserved Member of Parliament Nadira Yasmin Joly was present as the chief guest, while Pabna Sodor Upazila Porishod Chairman Mossarraf Hossain, Bangladesh Bidi Sramik Federation Acting President Amin Uddin (BSc), Nazim Uddin, Shamim Islam, among others, were present as special guests. Abdur Rahman, General Secretary of Bangladesh Bidi Sramik Federation spoke as the keynote speaker.
Addressing the demo, the speakers said, “Millions of workers including the helpless, disadvantaged, extremely poor, physically-handicapped and widows make a living by working in the bidi sector. But the country’s ancient labor-intensive industry is being destroyed by the conspiracy of foreign multinational companies.
Multinational companies were smuggling thousands of crores of rupees abroad by burning the lungs of the people of this country. Some corrupt local officials are taking advantage of foreign multinational companies and imposing excessive taxes on bidis. Bidi owners are being forced to close their factories as they cannot bear the burden of this exorbitant tax, they said
As a result, the workers are living a dehumanized life. Besides, advance income tax on cigarettes is 3 percent and advance income tax on bidis is 10 percent. We want to repeal this discriminatory advance income tax.
“Some unscrupulous bureaucrats are conspiring to increase tariffs on bidis to give foreign cigarette companies a monopoly. Due to the increase in tariffs, unscrupulous traders are making fake bidis and marketing them to evade the tariff.
The government is being deprived of huge amount of revenue. It is even creating confusion in the minds of the people by hiding the real number of bidi workers to destroy the bidi industry and workers. We strongly condemn and protest against this, the speakers said.
If there is a conspiracy against the bidi workers, we will be forced to go for a tough movement, they added.