Garment workers shout slogans as they demonstrate in front of a garments building at Eskaton, in Dhaka, Bangladesh 10 June 2013. EPA/FILE/ABIR ABDULLAH

Bangladesh hikes minimum wage for textile workers amid protests

Dhaka, Nov 7 (EFE).- Bangladesh on Tuesday announced a 56 percent raise in the minimum wage for the country’s millions of textile workers after violent protests for the hike.

“The new minimum wage for workers will now be taka 12,500 ($112.60), which is 56.25 percent higher than the past,” Deputy Labor Affairs Minister Monnujan Sufian told reporters after a meeting of the government-formed Minimum Wage Board.

Bangladesh last revised salaries for textile workers in 2018, when it set a minimum wage of 8,000 taka per month.

Sufian urged agitating workers to return to work.

“(The) industry is your life. If it is closed, you will be affected first. The owners will suffer later,” Sufian said.

Trade union leaders, who were demanding taka 23,000 ($207.20) as the minimum wage, however, rejected the government decision and vowed to continue the protest.

“It is not possible to run a family with taka 12,500. We reject this. We will hold a demonstration again on Friday,” Joly Talukder, general secretary of the Bangladesh Garment Workers Trade Union Centre, told EFE.

Demonstration was also held on Tuesday in industrial hub Gazipur, where several thousand workers took to the streets in the morning demanding a wage hike.

“Workers from 15–20 factories came out of their factories without working and took a position on the street. We managed to send them back home. The rest of the factories also declared holidays,” Sarwar Alam, the local chief of industrial police, told EFE.

Alam said some unidentified people torched two buses in the area during the protest, but they were not sure the incidents were related to the workers’ protest.

At least two workers were killed and several others were injured in Gazipur as the workers’ protest turned violent last week.

The unrest soon spread to other areas, triggering clashes that forced several hundred factories to suspend their operations.

Alam said that most of the factories had reopened by Tuesday. “We now have a little over a dozen factories closed here.”

The textile sector in Bangladesh has faced intense scrutiny for years due to poor working conditions, especially after the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex in 2013, in which 1,100 workers were killed and 2,500 injured.

Textiles accounted for nearly 85 percent of Bangladesh’s total exports of $55 billion last year. EFE