By Roland Buerk
BBC News Dhaka
The head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Bangladesh has urged political parties to stop calling general strikes and to talk instead.
Bangladesh has been hit by a series of strikes in recent years
Jorgen Lissner said the stoppages were damaging the country's economy. More than 20 days of strikes took place in the country last year.
The strikes, which are called by the political opposition, regularly bring towns and cities to a virtual stop.
And many people are said to be too intimidated to go to work.
Shops, offices and schools also close, as party activists picket the streets.
The UNDP is now urging politicians to talk to each other instead of organising protests.
Both major parties, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, have boycotted parliament when they have been in opposition. Their leaders have not met since 1991.
But breaking the cycle of general strikes will be a difficult task.
The next day-long stoppage has already been called for the end of the month.