12/29/2016, 09.50
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Dhaka, production resumes after textile strike. 1,500 workers laid off

The workers had been on strike for two weeks over wage increase. The sector risked collapse, 59 companies forced to stop machines. 80% of the garments for foreign market.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - 1500 textile workers in Bangladesh have been fired following a two week strike demanding a wage increase. Together with about 150 thousand colleagues they had halted manufacturing of important Western clothing brands. After days of discussions and bargaining, the protest has resulted in a stalemate and 90% of workers returned to the factories.

The strike had started on December 12 with Windy Apparels Limited, a clothing company in the Ashulia industrial belt, on the outskirts of the capital. Thousands of workers were on strike, demanding an increase in the minimum wage hand in hand with the increase in the cost of living.

The protesters complained that the current salary, around 5-6 thousand taka (just over 80 Euros), is not enough to bridge a relentless inflation. Therefore they demanded a negotiation with management and the adjustment of salaries at least up to 15 thousand taka (about 180 euro).

Despite widespread understanding for their demands, local AsiaNews sources report that the strike threatened to undermine the entire Bangladesh's economy, which is 80% based on the production of clothing for the foreign market.

Following the strike, 59 factories that package clothing for foreign giants - such as Zara, H & M and Gap – were forced to freeze production.

The country is the second largest exporter of packaging after China. The sector is plagued by huge problems of exploitation of the workers and poor safety standards. According to the latest data, at least 4 million Bangladeshis are working in related industries.

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