Ashulia (Bangladesh): Hundreds of
Bangladeshi garment factories reopened on Wednesday under a heavy
police presence, struggling to meet orders from key Western
brands after riots by workers forced their closure.
Tens of thousands of employees who stitch garments for
the leading names in US and European retail had been on strike
since Saturday to protest against low pay at a major
industrial zone outside Dhaka.
Violence and vandalism flared yesterday, with police
firing rubber bullets and tear gas after dozens of the
estimated 700 factories in the area were attacked.
"It is very volatile. We can`t predict if things will
flare up again, but we have enough security to handle it
today," police deputy inspector Ayub Khan, who was at one of
the worst-affected factories, told AFP.
"The workers have gone to their shifts on time, there
were no problems," he said.
Nearly a thousand riot police, armed with several water
cannons, were in the area where as many as 80,000 people are
employed by subcontractors working on behalf of global
retailers such as Wal-Mart, Tesco and H & M.
Factories reopened despite smashed windows and damaged
sewing machines, desperate to stop the protests affecting
orders from Western buyers, said garment manufacturer Envoy
Group`s director Sultan Noorani.
"We are worried about late delivery -- if you are late by
one day, international buyers cut five per cent off the order
price," he said, adding that his factory was now late on an
order of shorts for Wal-Mart.
"We will be forced to use air cargo to deliver things,
which is expensive. For the last week, we`ve had problems with
this strike. We plan to raise wages as soon as the government
makes a decision, but workers are impatient."