Bangladesh garment worker shot dead in new wage protests

Garment staff and activists participate in a protest in Dhaka on November 7 demanding larger wages (Munir uz ZAMAN)

A Bangladeshi girl was shot useless Wednesday throughout violent protests by garment staff after they rejected a authorities wage enhance supply, with the sufferer’s husband blaming the police.

The South Asian nation’s 3,500 garment factories account for round 85 % of its $55 billion in annual exports, supplying most of the world’s prime manufacturers together with Levi’s, Zara and H&M.

However circumstances are dire for most of the sector’s 4 million staff, the overwhelming majority of whom are ladies whose month-to-month pay begins at 8,300 taka ($75).

A government-appointed panel raised wages on Tuesday by 56.25 %, however placing staff demand a near-tripling to 23,000 taka.

“Police opened fireplace. She was shot within the head… She died in a automobile on the best way to a hospital,” mentioned Mohammad Jamal, the husband of 23-year-old stitching machine operator Anjuara Khatun, a mom of two.

Jamal advised AFP that police had fired on about 400 staff calling for wage enhance within the industrial metropolis of Gazipur, outdoors the capital Dhaka. “Six to seven folks had been shot at and injured,” he mentioned.

Bacchu Mia, a police inspector posted at Dhaka Medical School Hospital the place the physique was introduced, confirmed the demise however gave no additional particulars.

Police mentioned contemporary violence broke out on Wednesday in Gazipur, house to lots of of factories, after 4,000 folks staged protests rejecting the wage resolution.

1000’s extra blocked a freeway the place no less than 5 officers had been injured, two of them critically, a police inspector advised AFP on situation of anonymity.

The Netherlands-based Clear Garments Marketing campaign, a textile staff’ rights group, dismissed the brand new pay degree as a “poverty wage”.

“The brand new minimal wage condemns staff to a battle for fundamental survival for the following 5 years,” it mentioned in an announcement.

Many manufacturers sourcing their clothes from Bangladesh have long-standing residing wage pledges, it mentioned, however “they’ve did not act, illustrating the vacancy of those commitments”.

The US condemned “violence towards staff in Bangladesh protesting¬†over the minimal wage” and “the criminalisation of reliable employee and commerce union actions”.

In an announcement, State Division spokesman Matthew Miller urged the panel “to revisit the minimal wage resolution to make sure that it addresses the rising financial pressures confronted by staff and their households”.

– ‘How can I survive?’ –

The minimal wage is mounted by a state-appointed board that features representatives from the producers, unions and wage specialists.

“The wage was low earlier than, and it’s nonetheless low after the brand new minimal wage announcement,” mentioned Mujahid Ahmed, 23, a stitching machine operator. “It isn’t sufficient to satisfy our fundamental calls for.”

Unions say their members have been laborious hit by persistent inflation — which reached practically 10 % in October — and a cost-of-living disaster partly triggered by the taka depreciating about 30 % towards the US greenback since final yr.

“I’m a widow, with two youngsters. I get some 13,000 taka together with extra time pay. How can I survive with this little earnings? My again is towards the wall,” mentioned employee Shahnaj Akter, within the garment-producing city of Ashulia.

Wage protests pose a serious problem to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has dominated the nation with an iron fist since 2009. A resurgent opposition has challenged her rule as she readies for elections due earlier than the top of January.

Safety has been tight in key industrial cities outdoors Dhaka after unions threatened to carry new protests over what they described because the “farcical” wage hike.

Police mentioned round 600 factories that make clothes for a lot of main Western manufacturers had been shuttered final week and scores had been ransacked within the greatest wage protest in a decade.

4 factories had been torched and no less than two staff had been killed within the violence, with tens of hundreds of staff blocking highways and attacking factories.


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