Factories ablaze as Bangladesh garment workers protest

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

DHAKA, September 23, 2013 (AFP) – Angry Bangladeshi garment workers blocked roads, set factories alight and clashed with police for a third day on Monday as protests demanding a minimum monthly wage of $100 spread outside the capital. Thousands of workers also attacked a camp of a reserve police force 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Dhaka, injuring three officers and breaking three rifles, the force’s senior officer Rafiqul Islam told AFP.

The unrest spread to the capital’s Rampura and Tejgaon industrial areas, where thousands of workers clashed with police and protested outside the headquarters of a garment manufacturers’ association, police said.

Widespread protests seeking wage rises in 2006 and 2010 led to deadly clashes, leaving dozens of workers dead and hundreds of factories vandalised. Abdul Baten, police chief of the Gazipur industrial district near Dhaka which is home to hundreds of factories, told AFP that “up to 200,000 workers” had joined the latest demonstrations.

His deputy Mustafizur Rahman said about 300 factories, which make clothing for top Western retailers such as Walmart, were shut on Monday to contain the violence as protesting workers attacked plants that stayed open.

“The situation is ext