Bangladesh garment protests halt factories
Western brands such as Adidas, Gap, H&M, and Levi Strauss, have shut their operations.
Hundreds of garment factories in Bangladesh were reported to have closed down as thousands of workers engaged in violent protests to demand a nearly tripled wage. Bangladesh’s 3,500 garment factories, responsible for approximately 85 per cent of the country’s annual exports totalling $ 55 billion and supplying major Western brands such as Adidas, Gap, H&M, and Levi Strauss, have shut their operations. The situation for the sector’s four million workers, mostly women whose monthly salaries start at 8,300 taka (US$75), is dire.
Since the protests began over the weekend, workers had raided numerous factories in Gazipur and other industrial areas on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka. More than 250 garment factories had closed due to the protests. Approximately 50 factories were looted and damaged, including four or five that were set on fire. He added that when one factory was attacked, neighbouring factories preferred to remain closed.
In another area, at least 50 large factories employing over 15,000 workers in his industrial town had shut down. According to police records, two workers were killed, and dozens more were injured since the protests began.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), representing factory owners, offered a 25 per cent salary increase, falling significantly short of the 23,000 taka (US$209) monthly wage demanded by the protest campaign.
Several thousand workers had blocked roads around Dhaka to emphasize their demands.