Violent worker protests shuts down Bangladeshi garment units

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 - 21:17

Dhaka: Thousands of garment workers in an
industrial suburb of Dhaka took the streets demanding better
wages, and violent protests forced nearly 700 units to shut
down exposing the industry to massive losses.

Factory owners overnight shut nearly 700 readymade
garment units at suburban Ashulia industrial area amid violent
clashes despite stern government warnings against disrupting
the industry, officials said.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters
Association (BGMEA), which represents the owners of the
apparel units, took the decision to close down the units.

Some 100 people were injured in clashes between police
and protesting garments workers who were demanding better
wages.

"We are faced with a sense of insecurity as more than
50 factories were vandalised in the past three days prompting
the association to take the decision," BGMEA vice-president
Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin told reporters.

He said the workers unrest made it impossible for the
units to comply with the buyers` deadline and exposed the
industry to losses of millions of dollars and "our survival is
at stake".

The BGMEA decision came as the government sounded a
strong note of warning against attempts to destablise the
industry.

"We will follow the zero tolerance policy... tough
actions will be taken against instigators even if they are
from any owners` group," Labour and manpower Minster Khandaker
Mosharraf Hossain told newsmen emerging from a delegation of
business leaders.

Witnesses said Ashulia`s industrial belt virtually
turned into a battlefield with several thousand garment
workers blockading the busy road and vandalising vehicles to
press home their demands.
They are demanding Taka 5,000 (USD 70) as minimum
monthly wages as against the current minimum wage of just USD
25.

At least 20 police personnel were among the injured
after clashes raged between the workers and law enforcers.

Police in riot gear and elite anti-crime Rapid Action
Battalion (RAB) troops used batons and tear gas canisters to
disperse the protestors.

About 800,000 workers are employed in the 700 factory
units that supply readymade garments to major retail chains
including Wal Mart and Carrefour.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 - 21:17

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