Factories shuttered as protest turns violent in Bangladesh

PROTESTERS demanding a higher minimum wage in Bangladesh were broken up by police yesterday, with the disorder forcing more than 100 factories to close their doors.

Tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon were used on the protesters, who were rallying in support of a higher minimum wage for textiles workers.

Bangladesh’s wage board announced proposals to raise the minimum wage by 77 per cent, up from the currently monthly salary of $38 (£23.72), but some manufacturers say that they cannot afford the change. September saw six days of strikes over low wages and safety concerns. The country’s precarious factories made international headlines in April this year, after the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka collapsed, killing 1,129 people.

Garments and textiles make up a large proportion of the Bangladeshi economy: many western clothing outlets have factories in the country.

The International Labour Organisation postponed its report on Bangladeshi employment conditions, which was due for release today, citing unforeseen circumstances.

Violent protests in Bangladesh have also surrounded the country’s recent political situation: earlier this year several people died during strikes and protests after an Islamist political leader, Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, was sentenced to death for crimes committed four decades ago, during the Bangladeshi civil war in 1971.