Garment workers protest pay discrimination in Bangladesh


At least a dozen protesters were wounded in clashes with police on Wednesday after several thousand factory workers rallied in Bangladesh to demand the implementation of a garment sector pay scale approved last year, police said.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse a group of workers outside the capital Dhaka in Savar as they blocked a national highway, officer Shana Saminur Rahman said. The workers threw bricks at the police in response, Rahman said.  At least 10 factories in the industrial districts of Savar and Ashulia were shut following the unrest.

Police were trying to convince protesters to return to work as the government formed a panel to address the crisis, Rahman said. The workers began demonstrating on Sunday, alleging that many factory owners were not implementing the government's minimum wage policy for the garment sector that was announced in September.

Starting in December, the monthly minimum wage for entry-level workers in Bangladesh's garment factories increased 51 per cent to 8,000 taka (95 dollars) from 5,300 taka.

But trade union leaders said factory owners did not raise wages across pay grades as per the government's instructions, prompting the workers to take to the streets.

Workers in Dhaka's Mirpur and Uttara neighbourhoods also took to the streets, demanding that authorities address the crisis. In the face of protests, the government on Tuesday formed a 10-member panel to review the situation, asking factory owners to pay wage arrears next month, if any, alongside wages for January.

Export earnings from garment sector add more than 29 billion dollars a year to Bangladesh economy.    (dpa)

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