Bangladesh police dispersed With tear gas, striking workers demanded better wages near the capital on Saturday, while most factories supplying the world's major clothing groups reopened.
In the industrial agglomeration of the capital Dhaka, 600 factories producing for major global clothing groups have resumed their activity, according to the police, after being shut down for a week due to 'a workers' movement.
However, clashes broke out in the industrial town of Ashulia, west of Dhaka, when 10,000 workers tried to prevent their colleagues from returning to their jobs.
“They threw stones and bricks at police officers and factories, and tried to block roads,” Ashulia police chief Mohammad Sarowar Alam told AFP . “We dispersed them by firing tear gas.”
Textile workers confront police during a rally, demanding a near tripling of their salaries in Ashulia on November 4, 2023 © AFP – –
In total, 1,500 police officers had were deployed there and in the neighboring town Savar, he added.
A 35-year-old woman was seriously injured when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at hundreds of protesters in Sreepur, some 60 kilometers north of Dhaka, police inspector Ibrahim Khalil told Reuters. 'AFP.
Imran Khan, the woman's nephew, told AFP that she had been hit in the face with rubber bullets three times.
The workers also returned to their jobs in Gazipur, an industrial town on the outskirts of Dhaka where the demonstrations were the most violent, said the local police chief, Sarwar Alam.
The authorities “assured us “They would increase our salaries within a week. That's why we returned to the factories,” Rokon Uzzaman, a textile worker, told AFP. “We have no savings. How long can we continue the protest if we cannot feed our families?” he added.
Among the hundreds of closed establishments were “the largest factories in the country, which supply all the major Western brands”, Kalpona Akter, president of the Bangladesh Industrial and Garment Workers' Federation, said on Friday. /p>
These factories supply brands or distributors such as “Gap, Walmart, H&M, Zara, (the group) Inditex (of which Zara is a part, editor's note), Bestseller, Levi's, Marks and Spencer, Primark and Aldi”, according to Kalpona Akter.
Police fired rubber bullets to disperse textile workers who are organizing a rally to demand a near tripling of their salaries in Ashulia on November 4, 2023. © AFP – –
Textiles are a key industry in Bangladesh, the world's second largest clothing exporter behind China. Its 3,500 factories employing four million workers, mostly women, represent 85% of this poor South Asian country's $55 billion in annual exports.
The angry workers are demanding an almost tripling of the minimum monthly salary, from 8,300 takas (70 euros) to 23,000 takas (190 euros), to cope with the sharp increase in the cost of living and provide for needs of their families.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, representing factory owners, is offering only a 25% increase.
Primark Group , based in Ireland, told AFP that it had so far “not experienced any disruption to its supply chain.”
This labor movement comes as political opposition has been growing for years. month the demonstrations against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, demanding her resignation before the elections scheduled for the end of January.
All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2023) Agence France-Presse