Bangladesh reopens factories after rioting
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 21:44
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."


First Published: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 21:44

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