Garment workers stay rowdy | The Daily Star
12:52 AM, September 27, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:03 PM, September 27, 2013

Garment workers stay rowdy

No production in 30 factories

Production remained suspended for the sixth straight day yesterday in at least 30 garment factories due to vandalism by workers in spite of patrolling by paramilitary personnel.
The government deployed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) personnel in Gazipur to bring the situation under control, but the agitated workers continued to wreck workstations and front faces of factories at Ashulia, Savar, Zirani, Narayanganj and Gazipur with vengeance, rendering the area unsafe.
The vandalism, which started on September 21 over the garment owners' resistance to a 170.5 percent pay rise for the workers, also left 70 people including police and passersby injured yesterday.
“Security is the main problem,” said Reaz-Bin-Mahmood, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the garment makers' platform.
Some factories at Kashimpur, one of the worst-hit areas, however, were reopened yesterday, but the presence of workers was very thin.
“The environment was better yesterday as a good number of members from the law enforcement patrolled the areas,” Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Savar and Ashulia Zone Garment Owners' Association, said.
The Exporters Association of Bangladesh yesterday expressed concern about the impact the labour unrest, which has caused hundreds of garment factories in Dhaka and its surrounding areas to suspend production at some point since Saturday, would have on the $21.54 billion garment sector.
“The future of the garment sector is under threat if the unrest continues for a long time,” the body said in a statement.
Meanwhile, US Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, yesterday sent a letter to Ellen O'Kane Tauscher, chair of the board of directors of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, calling on the association to take an active role in increasing awareness and understanding of workers' rights in the country's garment factories.
“As the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the son of a former garment worker, I believe that we have a moral imperative to help bring about fundamental change in Bangladesh's garment industry,” the letter said.
“Groups like the Alliance have an important part to play in effecting this change, and I urge you to take advantage of the momentous opportunity.”

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