An Ansar camp was looted and more than 150 people, including law enforcers, were injured in Dhaka, Savar and Gazipur yesterday, during apparel workers' agitation demanding a minimum monthly salary of around Tk 8,000.
The workers, on the third day of their agitation, also vandalised more than 120 vehicles and 10 garment factories in the capital and its outskirts, and blocked several roads, including Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Aricha highways, and Tejgaon-Gulshan link road in the capital causing severe traffic jams.
Almost all the factories in Gazipur, around 15 in Dhaka and at least 17 in Savar were kept shut for the day fearing further vandalism.
Meanwhile, at an emergency meeting around 12:30am today, garment makers decided to reopen the chaos-hit factories on government assurance of adequate security.
"We assured garment factory owners of adequate security so that they can reopen the factories. We have also asked law enforcement agencies to strictly control the outsiders, as they instigate workers in resorting to vandalism," said Mikail Shipar, secretary to labour and employment ministry.
Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufactures and Exporters Association, after the meeting also confirmed that they would reopen the factories from today.
Two more decisions, including submission of the wage structure within November by the minimum wage board, although the board has time up to December, and payment of workers' salaries and bonus well ahead of Eid-ul Azha, were made in the emergency meeting.
Also attended by State Minister for Home Affairs Shamsul Haque Tuku, top officials of Rapid Action Battalion and industrial police, the meeting was chaired by Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan.
Workers of three garment factories attacked an Ansar camp in Bhogra by-pass area of Joydevpur upazila yesterday around 8:30am.
They looted eight rifles and 135 bullets, leaving eight Ansar members, including a commander, injured. They set fire to four of the rifles.
The other four rifles looted were recovered from roadside bushes after the attackers had left the scene. The bullets are yet to be found, said Noor Mohammad, officer of Ansar and Village Defence Party in sadar upazila.
In the morning, workers of Rose Knitting and Sumon Textile Ltd went to adjacent Colossus Apparel Ltd and asked its employees to join them. Together, they attacked the nearby Ansar camp with sticks and bamboo.
Commander of the camp Apan Mollah, 40, and three of his colleagues -- Alamgir Hossain, 28, Mahalam, 23, and Abu Raihan, 25, were injured in the attack and were undergoing treatment at a hospital in Uttara of the capital.
Garment workers also put barricades at different points of Chandona, Pagarh and Duttapara in Tongi upazila disrupting vehicular movement on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway for four hours, said Sub-Inspector (SI) Moniruzzaman of Tongi Police Station.
He said it all started around 8:30am when more than 10,000 workers with sticks and bamboos gathered on the highway.
To disperse them, law enforcers used truncheons and fired from shotguns in which 50 workers were injured, including 18 bullet-hit, the SI said.
The injured were taken to Tongi Hospital and Dhaka Medical College Hospital, reports our Gazipur correspondent.
Fifty more people were hurt when agitating workers vandalised at least 15 vehicles and set fire to a roadside shed for Ansars at Chandona.
Gazipur police said a group of workers clashed with law enforcers on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Borobari area while another group vandalised at least six garment factories along the highway at Konabari.
More than 100 vehicles were vandalised in the demonstrations in Gazipur.
The authorities of almost all the garment factories in the district decided to keep their units closed for Monday due to the unrest, said Mosharraf Hossain, assistant superintendent of Gazipur Industrial Police.
Around 1,000 workers of several garment factories in Tejgaon industrial zone took position on Tejgaon-Gulshan link road and began demonstrating around 9:30am.
They vandalised several vehicles creating traffic congestion. During the time, some workers hurled brick chips at roadside factories. They also broke the close circuit camera of a Ha-Meem Group unit.
An employee of Ha-Meem Group, seeking anonymity, told The Daily Star that the unruly workers torched a microbus and two motorcycles parked in front of the factory.
Locals said the situation aggravated around 10:30am as the workers halted traffic on the road and adjacent areas for an hour and vandalised at least four more vehicles.
Police had used 20 shotgun bullets and seven to eight teargas canisters to bring the situation under control, said Officer-in-Charge Mohammad Moniruzzaman of Tejgaon Industrial Area Police Station.
Meanwhile, several hundred workers from different garment factories in Badda area marched towards Rampura yesterday around 4:30pm, said Iqbal Hossain, officer-in-charge of Badda Police Station, adding that police had chased the workers away.
At least 40 people, including six policemen, were injured in clashes between apparel workers and law enforcers at Karnapara, Genda, Ulail and Savar Bus Stand areas along Dhaka-Aricha highway yesterday.
The violence erupted around 9:30am as police tried to disperse more than 4,000 workers demonstrating on the highway halting vehicular movement for about two hours.
Confronted with resistance, the workers vandalised at least 10 vehicles and several garment factories there, reports our Savar correspondent.
At one stage, police had charged truncheons and use rubber bullets and several canisters of teargas as the agitators retaliated with brick chips, said a witness.
Following the agitation, the authorities of more than 10 ready-made garment factories kept their production suspended for yesterday, said SI Omar Faruk of Savar Industrial Police.
In another incident around 12:30pm, at least 15 people were injured when more than 2,000 garment workers of GK Garments and Savar Textiles clashed with police in Savar Bus Stand area.
Traffic movement on Dhaka-Aricha highway came to a halt, for the second time in the day, for one and a half hours due to the clash, said witnesses.
This time the agitating workers vandalised at least five buses.
Production at two more garment factories had been kept suspended for the day after the violence, said industrial police.
In July 2010, the minimum salary for garment workers in Bangladesh was fixed at Tk 3,000, almost double the previous minimum salary.
Three years later, as garment workers demand that the minimum salary be revised, factory owners have offered a 20 percent or Tk 600 hike.