Bangladesh apparel exporters threaten to shut down factories

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Dhaka, Jan 13 (IANS) Bangladesh apparel garment owners have threatened to shut down thousands of factories if the labour unrest over disparity in their new wage structure in the country’s key export sector continues.

The warning came following week-long protests by the workers in Dhaka and elsewhere, reports Xinhua news agency.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Siddiqur Rahman made the announcement in Dhaka on Sunday.

He said factories across Bangladesh will be kept shut for an indefinite period from Monday if the workers do not return to their work stations.

Tens of thousands garment workers have been staging demonstration since last week.

They alleged that the minimum monthly basic wage in a grade had been increased to 8,000 taka from 5,300 taka but in other grades pay hikes were not reflected proportionately. (One $ equals about 84 taka.)

Like previous days, workers at key apparel hub — Ashulia, on the outskirts of Dhaka — took to the streets on Sunday and clashed with the police.

At least 10 people were reportedly injured when police charged batons and used water cannons to disperse the unruly protesters.

On Saturday, workers ransacked nearly a dozen factories in protests.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the relevant authorities to end the impasse and provide all the workers a proportionate salary increase.

Bangladesh’s $31 billion apparel export sector comprises about 5,000 factories employing more than 4 million workers, 80 percent of whom are women.

–IANS

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