Thousands of garment workers stop Bangladesh, demanding higher wages
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands of garment workers are still on strike after three days, blocking many of the country's roads and plants in order to get an increase in the minimum monthly wage. The protest disrupted traffic and vehicle movement, as well as the production, but workers say that "only by making our voices heard can we change something."
In the capital of Dhaka alone, more than 50,000 workers are in the streets. Workers want the minimum monthly wage to rise to 8,000 taka (US$ 100).
"With the 3,000 taka (US$ 40) that I now make, I cannot support my family, or buy medicine for my mother, who is sick," said Salma Begum, a young worker who spoke to AsiaNews.
Bangladesh is the 2nd largest garments production country after China. Textiles account for over 10 per cent of the GDP. The country has about 4,500 factories, employing more than 2 million people, 70 per cent of whom are women.
However, workers are often treated like slaves and forced to work in unsafe conditions, with thousands of people crammed on a single floor, for at least 12 hours a day.
Sometimes employers even suspend the one weekly day off, if there are too many holidays.
Recent protests have intensified in recent months, after the Tazreen Fashion and Rana Plaza tragedies. The two occurred close to each other, killing thousands of people.