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Bangladesh Garment Industry to See Rise in Minimum Wage

Garment workers shout slogans as they block a street during a protest demanding higher wages in Gazipur, Nov. 13, 2013.
Bangladesh factory owners say they have agreed to a 77 percent increase in the minimum monthly wage for garment workers, after days of unrest forced the closure of hundreds of production facilities.

Thursday's announcement followed a meeting between the manufacturers and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that resulted in the agreement, which will raise wages to about $66 per month.

But factory owners have complained it will be difficult to raise the wage without raising prices for the large Western retailers who buy from them.

Meanwhile, some activists said the 77 percent hike was not enough. Protesting workers had demanded a raise to $100 a month.

Bangladesh's garment export industry makes up 80 percent of the country's foreign exchange earnings. But the industry has been plagued by deadly accidents, including a building collapse in April that cost more than 1,100 lives.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.