Garment staff and activists participate in a protest in Dhaka on Tuesday demanding larger wages. (Photo: AFP)
DHAKA – A Bangladeshi woman was shot dead on Wednesday in the most recent violent protests by garment staff after they rejected a authorities provide of a pay rise, with the sufferer’s husband blaming the police.
The nation’s 3,500 garment factories make about 85% of its $55 billion in annual exports, supplying most of the world’s high manufacturers together with Levi’s, Zara and H&M.
But most of the 4 million staff in the sector, the overwhelming majority of whom are girls whose month-to-month wages begin at 8,300 taka ($75), face appalling situations.
A government-appointed panel raised wages by 56.25% to 12,500 taka on Tuesday, however placing staff demand that the wages be virtually tripled to 23,000 taka.
“The police opened hearth. She was shot in the pinnacle… She died in a automobile on the way in which to the hospital,” mentioned Mohammad Jamal, husband of 23-year-old stitching machine operator Anjuara Khatun, mom two folks
Jamal advised AFP that police had fired on about 400 staff demanding a pay rise in the commercial metropolis of Gazipur, exterior the capital Dhaka. “Between six and 7 folks had been shot and injured,” he mentioned.
Bacchu Mia, a police inspector posted on the Dhaka Medical College Hospital the place the physique was introduced, confirmed the dying however didn’t give any additional particulars.
Police mentioned contemporary violence broke out on Wednesday in Gazipur, dwelling to tons of of factories, after 4,000 folks staged protests rejecting the wage determination.
“They (protesters) hurled bricks at factories, vehicles and cops. We fired tear gasoline to disperse them,” mentioned the native police chief KM Ashraf Uddin AFP.
‘How can I reside?’
The minimal wage is about by a state-appointed board made up of representatives from producers, unions and wage consultants.
“The wages had been low earlier than, and they’re nonetheless low after the brand new minimal wage announcement,” mentioned Mujahid Ahmed, 23, a stitching machine operator. “It shouldn’t be sufficient to satisfy our primary calls for.”
Unions say their members have been hit onerous by persistent inflation – which reached practically 10% in October – and a cost-of-living disaster fueled in half by the taka depreciating by round 30% in opposition to the US greenback since final yr .
“I’m a widow, with two youngsters. I get about 13,000 taka together with extra time pay. How can I reside with this little earnings? My again is in opposition to the wall,” mentioned laborer Shahnaj Akter, in the city of Ashulia which produces garments.
The wage protests are a significant problem for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has dominated the nation with an iron fist since 2009. A resurgent opposition has challenged her rule as she prepares for elections due in January.
Security was tight in the principle industrial cities exterior Dhaka after unions threatened to stage new protests over what they referred to as a “farcical” pay rise.
Police mentioned round 600 factories that make garments for a lot of main Western manufacturers had been closed final week and scores erupted in the largest wage protest in a decade.
Four factories had been torched and at the least two staff killed in the violence, with 1000’s of staff blocking highways and attacking factories.