Bangladesh garment workers keep up protests for wage hike

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 14, 2013 08:10 hrs

Dhaka, Nov 14 (IANS) Bangladesh garment workers again staged violent protests Thursday though the owners agreed to pay them a minimum monthly salary of about $68.

A nearly 77 percent hike from the existing monthly pay was recommended by a government board recently. Garment owners agreed to the new wage at a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her residence Wednesday, Xinhua reports.

The owners also decided to resume production in all the garment factories at mega industrial belt Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka.

Citing security concerns, the apex organisations of Bangladesh's garment manufacturers Tuesday decided to shut down all the 782 Ashulia garment factories.

The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Tuesday after violent demonstrations by tens of thousands of workers at Ashulia.

For the last couple of days, thousands of workers have taken to the streets, demanding a minimum wage of 8,114 taka (about $104).

A TV channel reported that over 50 people, including police men, were injured as the unruly labourers fought battles with the law enforcers in Ashulia for higher minimum wage hike.

The authorities of dozens of factories in Ashulia area suspended their production for Thursday, fearing violence, it said.

The Bangladeshi government board recommended 5,300 taka (about $68) Nov 4, as the minimum monthly wage for the country's four million garment workers. This was nearly 77 percent hike from the existing monthly pay.

The garment factory owners rejected the minimum wage fixed by the board.

The country's garment sector, which does $20 billion worth of exports annually, comprises about 5,000 factories employing more than four million workers, 80 percent of whom are women.

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