By Michael E. Sanchez
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
DHAKA, Bangladesh- At least 2 people have been killed and over 100 injured in clashes between textile workers and police in Bangladesh, police have said. The authorities delayed the report almost 12 hours after the media first reported the deaths.
The violence erupted as workers protested over unpaid salaries in the outskirts of Dhaka on Saturday. “Law-enforcers had to fire rubber bullets from shot guns to disperse the workers who hurled stones and bricks at our officers,” said police inspector Shafiqul Alam. Workers arriving to work at Nippon Garments factory found a notice stating the factory was closing for a month, citing losses and depressed orders.
The workers then took to the streets to protest, with as many as 15,000 people involved in the protests, police said. Maleka Begum, a police official, said in addition to at least 100 workers, a number of police officers were injured in the chaos.
Protesters were demanding three months of back pay, Begum said, “The angry workers became unruly and violent this morning. They threw up barricades on the roads and suddenly attacked police.” The workers were told they would be paid on Saturday, but when they arrived found the notice announcing the “closure due to economic depression” from Oct 31 to Nov. 29
“We were owed many arrears. As the workers wanted break the lock to enter the factory, police obstructed us,” said Majeda Begum, a factory worker.
Garment factories in the country of Bangladesh have been hit hard by the global economic crisis. Unions said factories have cut wages to compete for orders with other apparel-producers, such as Vietnam, China and India. Over forty percent of Bangladesh’s industrials workforce is employed in the garment sector, and this whole has been affected by the economic downturn.
Saturday’s clashes were the most severe since the global downturn began to affect Bangladeshi apparel factories, which accounted for 80 percent of the country’s $15.56 billion dollars worth of exports in the last year. In June, 50,000 also workers protested wage cuts and unpaid salaries clashed with police and leaving many injured.
For more information, please see:
Aljazeera. Net- Bangladesh Workers Riot over Pay– 31 October 2009
Associated Foreign Press- ‘Two Killed, 100 Hurt’ in Bangladeshi Workers Riot– 31 October 2009
BDNews24.Com- Tongi Violence Leave 2 Dead, 100 Injured – 1 November 2009