Unrest rolls into 5th day | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 04, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 04, 2010

Unrest rolls into 5th day

Garment workers take to streets, say pay hike still too small


A riot truck sprays water and dye on garment workers in the capital's Tejgaon industrial area yesterday after the workers took to the street for the fifth straight day demanding Tk 5,000 minimum wage. Inset, police charge truncheon sending agitating workers in disarray. Photo: STAR

Sporadic violence marked the fifth day of ready-made garment industry unrest yesterday as angry workers took to the streets over an announced pay hike they say is still too low.
The workers vandalised some factories in Dhaka and stopped work in three factories in Ashulia demanding a higher pay scale immediately.
Meanwhile, around 3,000 to 4,000 workers were accused in a case filed in Narayanganj on charges of vandalism over the pay hike protests on Monday.
At least 10 workers were injured in a chase and counter-chase between them and police in Tejgaon industrial zone in the capital yesterday.
Eyewitnesses say several hundred workers of Padma Polycotton factories tried to provoke protests at nearby Nassa garment. But police and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) baton-charged the workers to bring the situation under control around 2:30pm.
The Tejgaon-based garment factory workers tried to gather again in front of Ha-Meem Garment to stage a protest. But the police and Rab members clubbed the protesters and used hot water to disperse them around 4:00pm.
The workers blocked the Tongi Diversion Road in front of Nabisco intersection, damaging at least five private cars before rushing to Nassa Garment.
According to witnesses, the workers pelted brickbats at Nassa garments, damaging windowpanes, before police lobbed teargas canisters and charged batons to drive them away.
"The police and Rab dispersed the agitated workers to bring the situation under control, but nine were arrested during the incident," said Omar Faruque, officer-in-charge Tejgaon Industrial Zone police.
In another incident, several thousand workers of Rose Garment, Green Life Clothing, and Designers Jeans, three Ashulia-based garment factories, observed a work stoppage, demanding higher pay scale.
Police said the workers left the factories in the morning without doing their jobs but could not gather on the streets due to presence of law enforcers.
In Narayanganj, the police arrested 11 workers in connection with a demonstration in Fatullah on Monday.
The law enforcers on Monday night filed a case with Fatullah police against 3,000-4,000 apparel workers for vandalism in the factories.
Amirul Haque Amin, president of National Garment Workers' Federation, said normalcy is gradually being restored. "It will take a few more days for a peaceful situation, as the trade union leaders are consulting with the workers now," he said.
In a tripartite meeting at the BGMEA office Sunday, the un-elected leaders of 42 trade unions in the garment factories agreed with the proposed minimum wage of Tk 3,000 with effect from November 1.
Some 14 union leaders denounce the 42 unions who will not press for a wage closer to the longstanding demand of Tk 5,000 per month.
Ismail Hossain, owner of a factory in Ashulia, said production resumed in almost all garment factories in this industrial hub as the workers could not go on the rampage due to presence of a good number of law enforcers.

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