DHAKA, July 30, 2010 (AFP) – Thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers blocked highways, attacked factories and looted shops in Dhaka on Friday, police said, after rejecting the terms of a government wage hike. An estimated 5,000 workers, who stitch clothes for leading Western brands, blocked the city’s main Tejgaon link road and attacked dozens of nearby garment factories with rocks, police sub inspector Abdul Quddul told AFP.
On Tuesday, the government said it would raise the minimum wage for garment workers from 1,662 taka — the lowest industry salary worldwide — to 3,000 taka (43 dollars). Some unions had demanded 5,000 taka.
Thousands more workers protested in Dhaka’s up-market Gulshan area where many embassies and foreign aid groups have their offices.
“They are ransacking factories, burning cars, blocking roads,” Gulshan police chief Nural Alam told AFP.
Alam said some protestors had targetted the area’s high-end shops, looting the contents and then setting fire to the buildings.
The new wage will be implemented from November 1.
Although the larger unions had promised to accept the deal, a string of smaller labour groups turned it down.
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