Garment factory violence leaves dozens injured in Bangladesh
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 17:35
  
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 factories.

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.

PTI


First Published: Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 17:35


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