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Bangladesh: clashes between police and thousands of textile workers mobilized for their salaries

Clashes broke out between On Thursday in Bangladesh, police and around 25,000 textile workers demonstrating for the increase in the minimum monthly wage, causing the closure of around 100 factories outside Dhaka, said: the authorities.

On Tuesday, the minimum wage committee for the textile sector increased the basic monthly salary of four million workers in the sector by 56.25%, bringing it to 12,500 takas (104 euros), an amount deemed “ridiculous” and immediately rejected. by the unions.

The textile workers, who have been demonstrating for two weeks, are demanding a near tripling of the monthly salary, currently at 8,300 takas (70 euros).

According to police, violence broke out in the industrial towns of Gazipur and Ashulia, north of Dhaka, where more than 10,000 workers demonstrated in factories and along highways, demanding a basic wage of 23,000 takas (190 euros).

“There were 10,000 workers (demonstrating) in several different places. They threw bricks and stones at our officers and at the open factories,” Mahmud Naser, chief of staff, told AFP. Ashulia Industrial Police Deputy.

“One of our agents was injured. We fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the workers,” added Mr. Naser, indicating that more than 100 factories had been closed in Ashulia and its surroundings.

In Konabari and Naujore, in the province of Gazipur, thousands of workers also faced the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the police, who made use of batons and tear gas, noted AFP correspondents on site.

Bangladesh: clashes between the police and thousands of textile workers mobilized for their wages

Textile workers demonstrate against the increase deemed “ridiculous” in their minimum wage, on November 9, 2023 in Gazipur, Bangladesh © AFP – –

“Some 15,000 workers blocked the road in Konabari and vandalized vehicles and other properties. We had to disperse them to maintain law and order,” Gazipur municipality administrator Sayed Murad Ali told AFP.

At least two injured demonstrators were taken to hospital, police said.

– “Poverty pay” –

The government is also accused by the unions of arrested and intimidated union leaders.

“The police arrested Mohammad Jewel Miya, one of the organizers of our unions,” Rashedul Alam Raju, general secretary of the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers' Federation, told AFP , specifying that a “local leader” was also arrested.

Bangladesh: clashes between the police and thousands of textile workers mobilized for their wages

A textile worker (c) arrested during a demonstration against the increase deemed “ridiculous” in their minimum wage, on November 9, 2023 in Gazipur, Bangladesh © AFP – Munir uz zaman

“Union leaders and rank-and-file activists are being threatened by the police” to put an end to the mobilization, declared a senior union leader, who requested anonymity, according to whom “at least six rank-and-file unionists” were also arrested. .

Police have not commented on these accusations.

Thea Lee, deputy assistant secretary for international affairs at the US Department of Labor, called in a statement Wednesday for the release of Mohammad Jewel Miya.

The United States condemned “the criminalization of the legitimate activities of workers and unions” and Washington on Wednesday urged Bangladeshi authorities to “review the decision on the minimum wage” to respond “to the growing economic pressures faced by workers” .

According to police, at least three workers have died since the protests began, and at least six police officers have been injured.

Based in the Netherlands, the organization defending the rights of textile workers, The Clean Clothes Campaign, for its part described the new base salary announced on Tuesday as “poverty wages”.

Textiles are a key industry in Bangladesh, the world's second largest clothing exporter behind China.

Its approximately 3,500 textile factories, employing mainly women, produce 85% of Bangladesh's 51 billion euros in annual exports and supply many major global brands, such as Levi's, Zara (Inditex group) and H&M.

All reproduction and representation rights reserved. © (2023) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116