Bangladesh government oversees police attacks on protesting garment workers


Bangladesh government oversees police attacks on protesting garment workers

Wimal Perera

16 January 2019

Thousands of garment workers in the Ashulia district on the outskirts of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, protested on Monday to express their opposition to a meagre wage rise announced by a government-appointed committee the day before. Heavily armed police backed by Bangladesh Border Guard troops dispersed the workers.

Monday’s demonstrations, which were accompanied by strikes, were the eighth consecutive day of protests by garment workers who have launched a renewed struggle against their poverty-level wages and onerous conditions.

On Sunday, a tripartite committee composed of ten representatives from the Awami League-led government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, along with factory owners and union officials, outlined a revised pay deal aimed at diffusing the protests.

The latest offer follows Hasina’s introduction last September of a minimum monthly wage of 8,000 taka ($US95). Workers, however, had called for double that amount. Workers on mid-level wage grades did not receive any pay rise as a result of the government increase.

The committee asserted that its Sunday announcement would result in a rise for those workers who had not experienced one in September.

Workers rejected this claim and condemned the committee for failing to meet their demands. They have stated that wage disparities are increasing and that pay for long-term and mid-level employees is either stagnating or declining. Some have said that companies are shifting workers from one pay grade to another to ensure that they do not receive any, even minimal, rise.

The government appointed the tripartite committee early last week after workers in the Ashulia and Savar districts resumed their…

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