Staff Reporter Dhaka : The Rajshahi Bidi Workers’ Union and Kormochari Unity Association on Tuesday laid siege to the divisional Customs, Excise and VAT office to press home their six demands, including the prohibition of counterfeit bidis.
About thousands of bidi workers gathered in front of Rajshahi Customs, Excise and VAT Office and staged demonstrations there in the morning.
The demands include imposing a ban on fake bidis and brand rolls, eliminating 10 per cent income tax on bidis, increasing the wages of workers by reducing the duty on bidis, increasing the price of cigarettes to sustain the bidi industry and workers, prohibiting the issuance of bidi factory licences without site inspection and taking legal action against counterfeiters.
Addressing the human chain, the speakers said that millions of workers, including helpless, disadvantaged, ultra-poor, physically challenged and widows, make a living by working in the bidi-making industry. But the country’s ancient labour-intensive industry is being destroyed by the conspiracy of foreign multinational companies.
Multinational companies are smuggling Tk thousands of crore abroad by burning the lungs of the country’s people. Some corrupt local officials are also taking advantage of the foreign multinational companies and imposing excessive taxes on bidis, they said, adding that bidi-making industry owners are being forced to close their factories as they cannot bear the burden of the exorbitant tax.
They also urged the customs authorities to take necessary steps to halt unlawful bidi manufacturers and counterfeit bidis.
Among others, Bangladesh Bidi Workers Federation general-secretary Abdur Rahman and joint-secretary Harik Hossain, Anower Hossain spoke at the programme.
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