» 12/13/2010, 00.00
Garment workers riot over wages in Chittagong, three dead, dozens injured
Employers are accused of not implementing government minimum wage increase. In Chittagong and Dhaka, factories and police stations are attacked with bricks and stones. Police fire into the crowd.
Dhaka (AsiaNews/ Agencies) – Three people were killed and scores injured yesterday as tens of thousands of garment workers rioted over wages in Dhaka and Chittagong, Bangladesh. The worst incidents occurred in the city of Chittagong where Korean garment maker Youngone shut all 17 of its factories following demonstrations.
During the incidents, some 20,000 workers attacked factories and police stations. Security forces responded using live bullets and tear gas. Three people were killed, including a rickshaw driver who died on the spot after he was hit by a brick.
“They torched scores of vehicles and attacked our officers and the station with bricks and stones. We fired live bullets when they became completely out of control,” said Sergeant Sheikh Abul Hasan.
In Dhaka, 4,000 mainly female workers torched two vehicles and blocked a road in protest against employers accused of not implementing the recent minimum wage rise.
In recent years, cheap labour has attracted foreign garment makers to the South Asian nation. Some 4,000 garment factories have been set up, exporting more than US$ 10 billion worth in garment products a year, mainly to the United States and Europe.
However, working conditions are such that workers have been pushed to protest and take industrial action. The government has responded by imposing a US$ 24 minimum monthly wage in 2006, raising it this year to US$ 42.
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For the past three days, garment workers have been on strike to demand a minimum monthly salary of 8,000 taka (US$ 100). "With the 3,000 taka (US$ 40) that I take now, I cannot [. . .] buy medicine for my mother," a young worker said. Collapsed buildings in the Tazreen Fashion and Rana Plaza cases revealed the inhuman conditions in which more than 2 million garment workers live.
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As garment workers strike in Dhaka, 59 companies shut down production
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A panel of trade unionists and business leaders will be set up to examine garment industry regulations in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than a thousand people.
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