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Business News/ News / World/  ‘Shops on fire, vehicles vandalized’ Violence erupts as garment workers protest in Bangladesh over wage hike
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‘Shops on fire, vehicles vandalized’ Violence erupts as garment workers protest in Bangladesh over wage hike

Protests erupted in Bangladesh after the garment industry offered a 25% increase in minimum wage, falling far short of the workers' demands.

Bangladeshi garment workers block traffic during a protest demanding an increase in their wages at Mirpur in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Oct.31, 2023. (AP)Premium
Bangladeshi garment workers block traffic during a protest demanding an increase in their wages at Mirpur in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Oct.31, 2023. (AP)

Bangladesh, the second-largest garment-producing country in the world after China, witnessed protests over the weekend after BGMEA offered to increase the monthly minimum wage by 25% to reach USD 90, instead of the USD 208 demanded by the workers. 

Currently, Bangladesh has nearly 3,500 factories with some four million workers employed, mostly women, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, or BGMEA data. 

They get 8,300 takas or USD 75 as their monthly minimum wage but often need to work overtime to make ends meet, labor unions and workers said as quoted by The Associated Press. 

Thousands of garment factory workers took to the streets of Bangladesh's capital Dhaka and the industrial district of Gazipur on Tuesday to demand better wages. 

In Gazipur, the protesters were seen throwing stones at many shops, while in Dhaka's Mirpur area, hundreds of agitators chanted demanding better wages. Some were seen vandalizing vehicles. Others chanted slogans as security personnel patrolled the area.

Garment worker Shahida Akhter said that she struggles to put food on the table. “(If you) reduce the price of (essential) goods, our wages won't need to be hiked. Do you know what is the cost of having a family? If there are babies, we need to spend more," she added. 

Speaking to AP, Raihan Mia, a fire department official in Gazipur said that the workers set fire to an electric goods showroom and vandalized a medical clinic and some other shops. 

Following this, BGMEA called on the protesters not to use violence or damage their factories. Local media reports stated that two workers died in clashes with police in Gazipur while some even blocked roads, set fire, and vandalized several factories. 

While Bangladesh has been maintaining stable annual economic growth for years, rising inflation has become a major challenge. The country earns annually about USD 55 billion from exports of garment products, mainly to the United States and Europe.

The protests came amid rising tensions over the coming general elections between the ruling Awami League party — led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina — and the main opposition group — Bangladesh Nationalist Party — led by her rival and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. 

 

(With AP inputs)

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Published: 01 Nov 2023, 08:13 AM IST
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