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Virus lockdown, May Day. So what? Labourers in Dhaka have no respite

  • Asif Mahmud Ove, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-05-01 20:16:48 BdST

Bangladesh is currently on a stricter lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak. It is also the historic May Day that commemorates the struggles of workers in the fighting for their rights. Day labourers, however, gather at a place known as Sramiker Bazar or worker bazaar in Dhaka’s Mirpur-1 on Saturday, May 1, 2021 trying to earn a living and feed their families as they struggle to live on amid the pandemic crisis.

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With the shops and malls closed amid a coronavirus lockdown on Saturday, May 1, 2021 which also commemorates the historic May Day, day labourers wait for work at Mirpur-1 in Dhaka.

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Day labourers who dig soil or carry bricks and sand at construction sites barely get work amid the coronavirus lockdown. They still gather in Dhaka’s Mirpur-1 every day and wait, hoping to get a job. Many have no food at home and no money in their pockets as at the end of the day, they have to return without being hired. It would have been possible to work somewhere else had the public transport services not been shut down, says one of them.

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While waiting for work in Dhaka’s Mirpur-1 on Saturday, May 1, 2021 which commemorates the historic May Day, construction worker Rabiul Islam says hunger does not know lockdown or special days. “What will we eat if we don’t work?” he asks.

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Widow Yasmin Begum, who can work as an assistant to a tile fitter and painter, waits for a job in Dhaka’s Mirpur-1 on Saturday, May 1, 2021 which commemorates the historic May Day. Before the coronavirus lockdown, she earned Tk 400 to Tk 500 a day and pay for food and rent of her family of four, including three daughters, in Mirpur’s Gudaraghat. Without work, the family now pass their days on a half-filled or empty stomach.

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Neel Banu lives with her sick husband in Mirpur. She also works as an assistant to a tile fitter and painter. Her three sons and one daughter have all married and gone their separate ways, leaving no one to care for them at their age. Although the government has provided support to the poor during the coronavirus crisis, she says she has yet to get any help.

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Construction worker Delowar Howladar, who lives alone in Dhaka’s Uttar Bishil while his family lives in Bagerhat, waits for work at Mirpur-1 on May Day, in the midst of a coronavirus lockdown.

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Day labourers gather around a man who wants to hire in Dhaka’s Mirpur-1 on Saturday, May 1, 2021. Finally he leaves without hiring anyone after failing to strike a bargain. The low-income people in Dhaka are struggling to live on amid a coronavirus crisis.

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Painters wait in Dhaka’s Mirpur-1 for work amid a coronavirus lockdown on Saturday, May 1, 2021 that commemorates the historic May Day.

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Day labourers return home after failing to get work at Mirpur-1 on May Day, in the midst of a coronavirus lockdown.