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Bangladesh: hundreds of “Textile factories close in the face of the anger of thousands of workers” /></p>
<p>Hundreds of garment factories in Bangladesh have closed. due to violent demonstrations by thousands of textile workers, which have lasted for several days and which left two dead, demanding that their minimum monthly salary be multiplied; by three. </p>
<p>In the capital Dhaka, as well as in several industrial towns on its outskirts, several dozen factories were ransacked by angry workers, and several hundred closed, according to the authorities, who also made report Thursday of clashes between demonstrators and the police. </p>
<p>“More than 250 garment factories were closed during the protests,” Sarwar Alam, the police chief of Gazipur (north of Dhaka), told AFP.</p>
<p>“Up to 50 factories were ransacked and vandalized, including four or five set on fire,” he added. “When a factory is ransacked, neighbors prefer not to leave theirs open,” he continued.</p>
<p>In Ashulia (north of Dhaka), at least 50 “very large factories” employing more than 15,000 workers were closed, said deputy police chief Mahmud Naser.</p>
<p>According to a police count , two workers have been killed and dozens more injured since the start of the protests, which began early last week and turned violent on Monday.</p>
<p>Textiles are a key industry in Bangladesh, the world's second-largest clothing exporter, behind China. Its 3,500 factories, which supply Western brands such as Gap, H&M and Levi Strauss, account for 85% of the poor South Asian country's $55 billion in annual exports.</p>
<p>– “My salary is not enough” – </p>
<p>But working conditions are harsh for many of the four million workers in the sector, mostly women, with a minimum monthly salary of 8,300 takas (70 euros). </p>
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Textile workers demonstrate for better wages, November 2, 2023 in Dhaka, Bangladesh © AFP – Munir uz ZAMAN

The workers demand 23,000 takas (190 euros), nearly three times more, to cope with the sharp increase in the cost of living and provide for the needs of their families.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, representing factory owners, proposes only a 25% increase.

“After ten years of work, my (monthly) salary is still 10,600 takas ($96). With inflation, how can I survive with a wife and a child? I need a loan every month because my salary is not enough to feed my family,” Nayeem Islam, a 28-year-old worker, told AFP.

The growth of the textile industry has greatly contributed to the economic success of Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world with its 170 million inhabitants.

“We make expensive clothes, they are sold at higher prices overseas” by factory owners, who “make a lot of money.” “Why can’t they pay us better?” asks Nasima, a 30-year-old worker.

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Textile workers demonstrate for better wages on November 2, 2023 in Dhaka, Bangladesh © AFP – Munir uz ZAMAN

Ten years after the tragedy of Rana Plaza, a textile factory which collapsed in Dhaka in 2013, killing more than 1,100 workers, wages and safety have been improved in factories, the unions recognize, but this progress is largely insufficient.

In addition to the closed factories, several thousand workers also blocked the roads of industrial districts around Dhaka on Thursday.

– “violent repression”-

In Mirpur (west of Dhaka) , riot police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse around 5,000 workers who were blocking a road, noted an AFP correspondent.

In Gazipur, police dispersed a thousand workers, according to a police official, Abou Siddique.

Bangladesh: hundreds of textile factories close in the face of the anger of thousands of workers

Textile workers demonstrate for better wages on November 2, 2023 in Dhaka, Bangladesh © AFP – Munir uz ZAMAN

Paramilitary troops of the Border Guard (BGB) have been deployed to “prevent violence” in the most affected areas, BGB lieutenant-colonel Zahid Parvez told AFP.

Global workers' rights network Clean Clothes Campaign has “strongly condemned the violent repression” of garment protesters, accusing most client brands of refusing to publicly support their demands.

Large brands, including Adidas, Hugo Boss and Puma, however, wrote to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the beginning of the month, having “noticed” that average monthly net salaries had “not been adjusted since 2019 while the “Inflation increased significantly during this period.”

According to the deputy commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Nazmul Hasan, his services suspect the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP, opposition) of inciting these demonstrations at a time when violent anti-government rallies are shaking the country to demand the resignation of Sheikh Hasina before the elections scheduled for the end of January.

All rights of reproduction and representation 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