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

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid