News / Asia

Bangladesh’s Garment Workers Protest Over Wages

Activists and garment workers shout slogans during a protest demanding a minimum wage of 8,000 Bangladeshi Taka [$100] in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov. 8, 2013.
Activists and garment workers shout slogans during a protest demanding a minimum wage of 8,000 Bangladeshi Taka [$100] in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov. 8, 2013.
Anjana Pasricha
Bangladesh’s garment industry is witnessing more turmoil as garment workers demanding higher wages clash with riot police. About 200 factories have been closed and at least 50 people have been injured in two days of labor unrest.
   
There were expectations that a government-appointed panel’s recommendation to hike minimum wages of garment workers to about $66 per month would have been welcome news in an industry where the current minimum wage is just $38 per month.

The industry’s 4 million workers, however, have turned down the proposal for the 75-percent hike. They are demanding a wage of about $100 per month.

Thousands of angry workers came out on the streets in the Ashulia industrial belt on the outskirts the capital Dhaka for the second day Tuesday, hurling stones and attacking factory owners. Riot police fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the protestors.
 
  • Garment workers assist injured colleagues during a clash with police in Ashulia on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov. 12, 2013.
  • Riot police chase garment workers during their clash in Ashulia on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov. 12, 2013.
  • A riot police officer chases a garment worker during clashes in Ashulia on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov. 12, 2013.
  • Garment workers walk out from a factory as other workers clash with police in Ashulia on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov. 12, 2013.

A Next Collection Limited employee, Jhoma Begum, said workers need more money. She said a salary of $66 does not meet their needs. She said nothing in the market, such as rice, costs less than 75 cents. She demands to know how they can live with this salary and asks whether they have the right to live?
 
The low wages paid to workers in Bangladesh have partly helped to catapult its ready-made industry to the world’s second largest, after China. The wages are just half of those paid to workers in countries like Vietnam.
 
Worried that a salary hike will take away its competitive edge, though, the industry has not yet endorsed the recommendations of the government panel. They fear it will increase production costs significantly.

Economist Khondaker Golam Moazzem at the Center for Policy Dialogue in Dhaka said the protests by the workers are meant to put pressure on the factory owners to accept the wage hike.

“I think if they accept the proposal, more or less the workers will calm down and the situation will improve. Entrepreneurs said they should take a more positive move to raise the workers wages,” said Moazzem.

The industry has been hit by the violent protests over wages when it already is under scrutiny for unsafe conditions following a building collapse in April that killed more than 1,100 workers.
 
Moazzem said Bangladesh needs to resolve the labor unrest if it hopes to continue getting trade privileges from the European Union, which are under review for the next year.

“Definitely this kinds of protests and unrest for better wages if continues, has an adverse impact in terms of Bangladesh’s global image as well as continuing GSP [Generalized System of Preferences] facility, particularly in the European market,” said Moazzem.

Activist groups, who support the demand for higher wages, say Western buyers also need to recognize the need to improve payments to the industry so that salaries can be raised.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs