Bangladesh garment workers rampage in Dhaka: Police

An estimated 5,000 workers attacked dozens of garment factories with rocks.

Dhaka: Thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers blocked highways, attacked factories and looted shops in Dhaka on Friday, police said, after rejecting the terms of a government wage hike.

An estimated 5,000 workers, who stitch clothes for leading Western brands, blocked the city`s main Tejgaon link road and attacked dozens of nearby garment factories with rocks, police sub inspector Abdul Quddul said.

On Tuesday, the government said it would raise the minimum wage for garment workers from 1,662 taka -- the lowest industry salary worldwide -- to 3,000 taka (USD 43). Some unions had demanded 5,000 taka.

Thousands more workers protested in Dhaka`s up-market Gulshan area where many embassies and foreign aid groups have their offices.

"They are ransacking factories, burning cars, blocking roads," Gulshan police chief Nural Alam said.

Alam said some protestors had targeted the area`s high-end shops, looting the contents and then setting fire to the buildings.

The new wage will be implemented from November 01.

Although the larger unions had promised to accept the deal, a string of smaller labour groups turned it down.

The government offer followed months of street protests that had repeatedly turned violent.

On June 22, hundreds of thousands of workers closed the key Ashulia export area, which produces for brands such as Wal-Mart, H & M and Marks & Spencer, a major blow for an industry aiming to steal contracts from Chinese competitors.

The garment sector accounted for 80 percent of Bangladesh`s total exports last year.