Bidi workers in Bangladesh formed a human chain on June 21 outside of the Pabna Deputy Commissioner’s office, demanding protection against competition from “foreign” cigarettes, reports The New Nation.
According to the leaders of the group, the biggest competitors to bidis are low-quality cigarettes, which are mostly owned by foreign companies and have not been set to increase in price much in the 2022/2023 budget.
“Bidi industry is a domestic worker-friendly industry,” the group leaders said. “Bidi is a 100 percent indigenous technology-based industry. On the other hand, everything in cigarettes is imported from abroad and depends on technology. Foreign multinational companies are smuggling thousands of crores of rupees by burning the lungs of the people of this country.
“If all kinds of conspiracies against the domestic bidi industry, including the withdrawal of discriminatory advance income tax, are not stopped, we will be forced to wage a fierce agitation.”
After the protest, the leaders of the group presented a memorandum to the prime minister through the deputy commissioner of Pabna.
The group demanded an increase in the price of low-quality cigarettes, withdrawal of a 10 percent tax on bidis, and legislation to protect bidi workers.