Dhaka: Dozens of angry Bangladeshi
garment factory workers demanding better wages were injured
after police in riot gears fired rubber bullets and lobbed
tear gas shells as thousands of them became violent
and blocked major thoroughfares in Dhaka.
Police said they were also forced to use water cannons
as the workers turned violent injuring 12 of their fellows,
five of them critically with brickbats, as the law enforcers
tried to clear the major city street after hundreds of
vehicles were stranded at Rokeya Sarani due to the blockade.
Witnesses said hundreds of workers of Outwear Garments
unit, who were demanding higher wages for the past several
days, initially staged sit in on a major road at Mirpur area
as they found their factory under lock and key as they went to
join the work.
They said workers of the nearby factories later joined
them prompting interventions of the the baton wielding police
and RAB forces to disperse some 15,000 workers as the
violence, the latest in a string of protests over low wages
and poor conditions, spread along a five-kilometre stretch of
road in Kafrul and Sheorapara area of Mirpur.
Production in at least 15 garment factories of the
area remains suspended following the clash that turned the
entire area into a battlefield for nearly four hours but
police and witnesses said the situation tamed down as the
garments workers joined a negotiation with management under
the mediation of a ruling Awami League lawmaker.
The violence came a week after hundreds of factories
in a key industrial zone outside the capital were briefly shut
down following days of violent protests which owners said
created "panic and anarchy".
The readymade garments industry is the mainstay of
the national economy earning the highest amount of foreign
currency for Bangladesh having more than 4,500 garment
Garments accounted for nearly 80 per cent of
Bangladesh`s 15.56 billion dollars of exports last year while
units employ around 40 per cent of the industrial workforce.