Bangladesh Protesters Clash With Police As Workers Fight For Higher Wages
Clashes between police and protestors entered their third day on Monday, as workers in Bangladesh pushed for a pay hike.
According to The Associated Press, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas into crowds of protesting garment workers in the Gazipur and Savar Industrial zones. The two areas house the facilities where popular brands like H&M are made.
Workers allegedly walked into streets disrupting traffic and responded to police presence by throwing stones. More than 100 factories closed for the day as the protests, and related violent exchanges between workers and cops continued. Around 50 people were injured during similar exchanges between the two groups on Sunday.
Garment factory employees are asking for a raise in the country's minimum wage. Right now, the lowest paid workers receive about 3,000 takas per month. That amounts to about $38. Striking workers are asking for a pay increase that would put their salaries at 8,114 takas, or $100 each month. Owners have said that they would not consent to raising salaries by more than $8, bringing a minimum wage worker's income to about $45.
On Monday, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association asked the government to intervene in the dispute saying, "We need to run our factories. We demand authorities ensure security to continue productions."
S.M. Mannan, vice president of the association said that the strike would not only cost the industry money, but also impact workers' ability to be paid before next months Islamic festival, Eid-al Adha.
Garment production makes up about 80 percent of Bangladesh's exports and brings the country around $20 billion each year. The industry employs around 4 million people, mostly women, and is known for work conditions that are often unsafe.
In April, the collapse of an eight story factory killed more than 1,100 people. The facilities are also plagued with fires, including one in November 2012 that left around 112 people dead.