Bangladesh garment workers to stage fresh protests for wage hikes

DHAKA, June 19, 2006 (AFP) – Bangladesh garment workers will stage a series of mass protests this week to demand a 30 percent salary hike amid continuing unrest, officials said Monday.

The planned demonstrations follow rioting last month in which 16 factories were torched and hundreds ransacked by employees.

At least two people were killed and scores injured after security officers shot at workers.

A memorandum of understanding signed last week by garment workers, the government and industry bodies, promised employees new rights including paid days off, union membership and a new minimum wage to be announced within three months.

But union leaders said workers were not satisfied by the agreement and protests supported by 16 unions would be held on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and June 29.

“They called this agitatation programme because their demand of a 30 percent increase to the minimum wage was not met in the memorandum of understanding,” said Shahida Sarker, president of the Bangladesh National Garment Workers Federation.

“They are also demanding a monitoring body made up of workers to check that the promises that were made are kept,” she added.