Bangladesh: Protesting garment workers win wage rise, but demand more

Garment workers protest for higher wages in Dhaka.

Garment manufacturers in Bangladesh agreed to raise workers’ pay, commerce minister Tipu Munshi said on January 13, urging people to return to work after a week of violent demonstrations, TeleSUR English said

The workers’ protests led to clashes between police and protesters that killed one worker and wounded dozens more. The protest wave pushed the Bangladesh government to consider the demand for higher pay in the world’s second-biggest garment exporter behind China.

Munshi told reporters that all parties involved agreed to raise wages across most pay grades, although the minimum wages would be unchanged at US$95 a month. Workers are demanding a minimum monthly wage of US$119 a month. The concession from the government and manufacturing bosses came after nearly 50 factories closed when thousands of workers took to the streets demanding higher wages.

However, several thousand garment workers took to the streets in Bangladesh on January 14, rejecting the pay hike in the crucial export industry as insufficient, police and union leaders said.

Low wages and trade deals with Western countries have made the sector a $30 billion industry accounting for 80% of Bangladesh’s exports.