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January 2019

Garment Workers ProtestGarment Workers Protest in Bangladesh

Protest of thousands of Bangladesh garment workers from around ten companies on January 8, 2019 clashed with police at the outskirts of Dhaka after workers blocked the road leading to Dhaka's Shahratal Hazrat international airport. Bangladesh police fired tear gas and rubber bullet which responded hurling bricks at the police by the workers and setting vehicles ablaze. Local media reported that the riot has led to one garment worker death and dozens wounded.

Worker's demonstration demanded better pay as the living cost has increased. The proposed wage considered too low to meet worker's daily needs. The demand for wage increases by garment workers has been going on for months and the Government has decided the increase of minimum wage at 8,000 taka per month or around US$95 payable in January 2019. Previously the minimum wage amounted to US$63 per month since 2013.

Workers want at least 16,000 taka per month or around US$191 to compensate for the increase in the of living cost of workers. As reported by local media, one of workers told the media that their salary is as high as the salary of their servants.

Bangladesh is the second largest garment exporter in the world after China generated around US$30 billion from export last year. World-famous brands such as Zarah, H & M and Uniqlo are also produced in Bangladesh. Bangladesh's newly sworn in commerce minister, Tipu Munshi, has promised that garment worker wages will be reviewed. As reported by local media the minister form panel from bussiness owners, government officials and union leaders to investigate the workers demand. The workers were urged to return to work.

Meanwhile the chairman of the Bangladesh Garment Association continues to call on workers to return to work and threaten workers not to get paid if they do not return to work and the factory will close until an unspecified time.