Authorities in Bangladesh on Saturday ordered temporary shutdown of nearly 300 garment factories as several thousand workers took to the streets demanding higher wages.
Officials and reports said the management of garment factories shut production at suburban Gazipur and Savar areas at the outskirts of the capital Dhaka after over 10,000 workers came out of the units and blocked transport movement on Dhaka-Tangail Highway as they were declined the leave for the scheduled rally at Suhrawardy Udyan.
“Several vehicles were damaged while the branch office of a bank and showroom of Singer were partly damaged as the workers staged the protests,” a journalist who covered the incident said.
Police said vehicular movement resumed on the highway as the workers marched towards Dhaka to join the rally.
The workers unions have been demanding the minimum monthly wage of $100 or 8,114 Takas while the factory owners said they could raise the amount to as high as 3,600 Takas or 20 per cent due to gloomy global economic conditions as government panel is currently examining the wage structures.
Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest garment exporter with over 4,500 factories which account for nearly 80 per cent of the country’s $27 billion annual exports paying a worker the minimum wage of $38 a month.
Widespread protests for wage hikes in 2006 and 2010 led to deadly clashes, leaving dozens of workers dead and hundreds of factories vandalised but Saturday’s protest was the first major one since the deadly collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in April this year that killed at least 1,127 workers.