10:25:12 local time BANGLADESH
Bangladesh Garment workers rally demanding minimum wage 21 September 2013:
* RMG workers rally in city’s Suhrawardy Udyan at 2pm Saturday:
Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan on Friday called for making Saturday’s grand rally of readymade garments workers a success.
Garments Sramik Samannoy Parishad, an association of RMG workers, will organize the rally in the capital’s Suhrawardy Udyan to demand rational minimum wages for the garment workers for their survival.
Briefing journalists at the temporary office of the association, Shahjahan Khan, also the convenor of Garments Sramik Samannoy Parishad, said the logical minimum wages for the RMG workers should be ensured for the sake of protecting the country’s garment industry.
He said the grand workers rally will not be held for gaining any political benefit.
The reactionary clique has become frightened seeing the enthusiasm among the readymade garment workers centering the rally.
“It is now the demand of time to forge a strong unity against the ‘conspiracy’ to confine women workers in the houses. The rally will be held protesting the retrenchment of RMG workers,” Shahjahan Khan added.
In the rally, the garments workers will place their demands for ensuring rational minimum wages, reinstatement of GSP facilities, and providing adequate compensation to the victims of Rana Plaza collapse and devastating fire incident of Tazreen Garments factory.
* Trouble brewing- RMG workers unhappy over wage-hike proposal:
The country’s garment sector may face another spell of fresh labour unrest centering the wage hike issue, industrial police sources said on Friday.
They said, the proposal for 20 per cent wage hike by the garments owners has created dissatisfaction among the garment workers and cashing the discontent, a group of labour leaders are working actively to destabilise the largest industrial sector again.
This pay hike proposal placed at the fifth meeting of the wage board formed for the apparel workers.
“Labour unrest may flare up at any moment from a key garments industrial belt as frustration grips in the mind of the RMG workers over the wage hike issue,” a senior industrial police official told The New Nation yesterday, preferring anonymity.
He added: “We have specific information that a group of labour leaders are mobilising the workers for a violent street protest. They want to launch the protest to press home their demand of a rational pay hike.”
The industrial police official further said they have already informed the matter to the government high-ups and requested them to take pre-cautionary measures.
“Our department is also keeping a close watch on the labour leaders to avert any untoward situation,” he said, adding, ‘but the situation could go beyond the control of the law enforcers once the workers come out to the street.
* RMG workers block Dhaka-Tangail Highway:
About 10,000 workers take to the streets after factory owners do not allow them to attend a Dhaka rally
Around 10,000 workers blocked Dhaka-Tangail Highway in Gazipur on Saturday morning, alleging they were not permitted leave from their places of work to attend a rally in the capital.
The rally, scheduled to begin at the capital’s Suhrawardy Udyan in the afternoon, demands raising the minimum wage to Tk8,000.
Witnesses said these workers from Purbani, Aimon, Naina, Dressmen and other readymade garment factories in Mouchak, Shafipur and Chandra had taken to the streets around 9am.
The agitated workers blocked Dhaka-Tangail Highway and smashed some vehicles.
Police managed to remove the workers from the highway around 11:30am.
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* Demo Demanding Salary hike- 8 RMG units vandalised in Gazpur:
The authorities of over 300 garment factories shut production of their units in Kaliakoir of Gazipur for Saturday in the face of workers’ agitation demanding a one-day leave for participating at a rally in Dhaka today.
Sramik Oikya Parishad, a platform of 52 garment workers’ welfare union, is scheduled to hold a grand rally at Suhrawardy Uddyan in the capital at 2:00pm to press home their several demands including raising their minimum monthly salary to Tk 8,000.
The agitating workers vandalised three factories at Kaliakoir in Gazipur and five at Jiranibazar in Savar during the demonstration.
The demonstration started from Gazipur at first as over 10,000 workers of different garment units in Kashimpur, Konabari and Chandra took to the highway around 8:30am, said Mosharraf Hossain, assistant superintendent of Gazipur Industrial Police.
Two hours later, the demonstration spread to Savar, on the outskirts of the capital.
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* Labour unrest shuts Gazipur RMG units:
The authorities have suspended production in all the readymade garment (RMG) factories in Kaliakoir upazila of Gazipur for the day today (Saturday) following labour unrest over salary hike.
Police said workers from several garment factories staged demonstration on the Dhaka-Tangail Highway to press for their minimum wage of Tk8,000.
The workers staged agitation there failing to join a scheduled rally in the capital as most of the garment units in the area remained open.
At first, the workers of Purbani Garments Factory took to the Dhaka-Tangail Highway at about 9.00am and started demonstration there failing to join the rally and also put up barricade on the highway.
At one stage, several hundred workers from different other factories also joined them in the demonstration.
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* 100 RMG units shut for a day fearing labour unrest:
More than 100 garment factories at Gazipur Industrial Belt were declared shut for Saturday fearing large-scale labour unrest as some workers took to streets after owners refused them to attend a grand rally in Dhaka, police and workers said.
Owners of the factories located at Kaliakoir, Mouchak, Chandra, Shafipur, Boardbazar, Konabari, Kashimpur, Vogra and Tongi suspended production for the day to avoid large-scale violence.
Police and witnesses said workers of Niagara Textile, Imon Textile and Hosiery, Echotex and Hydroxide Ltd at Chandra and Mouchak took to the streets at about 8:30am minutes after the authorities of those factories rejected their plea to allow them to join, the rally called by Garments Sramik Samonnoy Parishad in the capital.
Within 30 minutes of the protest, workers of other factories at the same area joined them and blockaded Dhaka-Tangail Highway, which connects the northern part of the country with Dhaka.
At the rally, workers’ representatives rejected the proposal to increase 20 per cent in the monthly wage of apparel workers by the garment manufacturers, saying that owners have started mocking with them through placing such proposal to the wage board.
“We strongly rejected the proposal. We will not accept anything below Tk 8000,” senior labour leader Shirin Akhter said.
Sirajul Islam Rony, who is representing workers at the wage board, said the garment makers should realise the pains of the poorly paid workers.
* RMG workers go on rampage in N’ganj:
Garment workers went on a rampage at Fatullah in sadar upazila here on Saturday as authorities allegedly denied them leave to attend the workers’ rally in Dhaka.
The unruly workers vandalized at least 10 garment factories in the area.
Witnesses said some several hundred garment workers brought out a procession Fatullah rail line area around 3 pm and vandalized 10 factories as the factories were kept open despite the workers’ rally. Some of the factories of the area were declared closed at 1 pm.
Additional police super of Narayanganj industrial police-4 Masud Ahmed said the garment workers got furious when they found some factories open.
Later, police brought the situation under control.
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* Transport workers express solidarity with RMG workers:
Expressing solidarity with the rally of readymade garments workers, leaders of transport workers announced that the transport of the country would be halted, if necessary, to realize their demand of Tk 8000 as minimum wage per month.
They also urged the RMG workers not to vandalize vehicles during the movement to press home their demand.
Garments Labourers Coordination Parishad organized the rally on demand of Tk 8000 as minimum wage, reinstating GSP, to stop the conspiracy of locking up women into the house at Suhrawardy Udyan of the city on Saturday afternoon.
* RMG workers reject owners’ minimum wage proposal:
Garment workers at a grand rally here on Saturday turned down factory owners’ offer of Tk 3,600 as minimum wage against Tk 8114 as they are crying for.
They also urged Hefajat-e-Islam chief Shah Ahmed Shafi to seek apology for his recent offensive remarks against women garment workers.
The grand rally was organised under the banner of Garment Sramik Samannoy Parishad at Suhrawardy Udyan to push their demand for minimum wages so that they can lead a decant life.
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* PM’s intervention sought for fixing RMG workers’ wages:
leaders of Garment Sramik Samannay Parishad (GSSP) have sought intervention of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for realizing their demand of making Taka 8 thousand as minimum wage.
The made the demand from a grand rally held at the Suhrawardy Udyan today.
Expressing his solidarity with the demand, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan, who is also the president of GSSP said, Sheikh Hasina is a workers friendly PM. In the past, she had fixed Taka 3 thousand as minimum wage for the RMG workers.
” This time also I am leaving the issue to the PM to decide what can be the minimum wage for a garment worker, who works in a factory from dawn to dusk everyday.”
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* Garment workers rally demanding $100 minimum wage:
Thousands of Bangladesh garment workers blocked roads and attacked factories outside the capital Dhaka on Saturday demanding a $100 minimum monthly wage.
The workers, many carrying sticks, walked off the job in dozens of garment factories, which make apparel for the world’s top retailers such as Walmart, and protested for hours on highways in the major industrial areas of Gazipur, Mouchak and Ashulia.
“There were at least 20,000 workers who joined the protest. They blocked roads, demanding a big salary hike,” Mustafizur Rahman, deputy police chief of the industrial district of Gazipur, told AFP.
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* Minister’s rally, so 400 factories shut:
Owners fume privately as labour leader-turned-lawmaker dictates terms
More than 400 garment factories were forced to suspend production yesterday thanks to a rally chaired by Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan to demand a 167 percent pay rise.
“What the garment owners are pushing for as minimum wage is not rational. We want to negotiate a realistic wage,” he said at the rally called by Garment Sramik Samannay Parishad, a federation of trade unions in garment sector, at Suhrawardy Udyan.
The shipping minister said the 20 percent hike in salary proposed by the owners is too low to improve the living standards of the garment workers.
Khan’s role at the demonstration attended by thousands of garment workers without leave of absence from their employers was criticised by industry stakeholder, as it is a conflict of interest.
“Being a minister he cannot chair a programme of a garment workers’ platform. He is a minister for all. For workers as well as the owners,” said a garment owner preferring not to be named.
* Garment workers demand Tk 8,000 minimum wage:
Garment leaders at a grand rally Saturday demanded a minimum wage of Tk 8,114 per month and sought intervention from the prime minister to implement the wages in time.
The shipping minister, who addressed the rally, also urged the garment owner to pay the wages, otherwise he warned that the demand will be realised through movement. “Garments workers will be united to press home their demands and resist any conspiracy to foil any conspiracy to deprive the workers from their due rights, said shipping minister Md. Shajahan while addressing a huge gathering at Suhrawardy Uddyan in the capital.
They also demanded putting a halt to the activities of Chittagogn-based Hifazat-e Islam for its ‘derogatory remarks’ against the garment workers.
Thousands of workers from various RMG factories in city and its adjoining areas including Savar and Gazipur attended the rally on Satuday afternoon. Workers of several factories had blocked roads and turned violent at Gazipur and Savar when authorities denied them leave to attend the rally.
* RMG workers go berserk as denied leave for Dhaka rally:
Several thousand apparel workers staged violent protests in Gazipur, Savar and Narayanganj after they were denied permission to attend a rally in Dhaka on Saturday, forcing over 400 garment units to suspend operation.
The protesters vandalised vehicles and blocked the Dhaka-Tangail highway in Gazipur for about two hours and a half, disrupting traffic on the busy route, according to witnesses and police.
The workers also went on the rampage at Fatullah in Narayanganj and Kabirpur, Boraipara and Jirani of Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka city.
New Age correspondent in Gazipur reported that the protests had erupted after the workers were denied a day’s leave for taking part in a rally held in Dhaka on the day to push for an increase in the wages of RMG workers.
Gazipur industrial police additional superintendent Mosharraf Hossain said police had cleared the highway around 11:30am.
In the face of agitations, around 400 garment factories located at Signboard, Bagher Bazar, Shirir Chala, Gazipur town, Masterbari and Bairagir Chala of Shreepur announced holiday for the day to avoid further deterioration in law and order.
Officer-in-charge of Kaliakoir police station Omar Farukh said stone-throwing protesters ransacked some factories after being refused permission to join the Dhaka rally. The workers also threw stones at the Shahjalal Islami Bank branch office and a Singer showroom at Shafipur Bazar smashing windowpanes.
The angry workers blocked the highway in Gazipur in the morning, alleging that they were not granted leave to participate in the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital in the afternoon. The Garment Workers’ Coordination Council, a platform of 51 organisations campaigning for apparel workers’ rights, organised the rally.
* Fix Tk 8,114 as minimum wage:
RMG workers tell owners
Apparel workers at a rally in Dhaka on Saturday warned that they would launch a strong movement if the factory owners did not accept their demand for Tk 8,114 in minimum monthly wage.
Rejecting a proposal of the owners’ representative to athe sector’s minimum wage board for fixing the wage at Tk 3,600 a month, they called for the prime minister’s intervention to enhance their minimum monthly wage to Tk 8,000 from the existing Tk 3,000.
The workers also demanded a ban on the activities of Hefajat-e-Islam terming it a ‘terror outfit’ which was campaigning against women working in garment factories and other sectors.
Several thousand workers from across the country joined the rally at Suhrawardi Udyan organised by Garment Workers Coordination Council, a combine of 43 organisations campaigning for apparel workers’ rights.
Shipping minister Shajahan Khan, also the convener of the combine, at the rally called upon the garment factory owners to accept the demand for Tk 8,114 in minimum wage. ‘We seek the prime minister’s intervention for the increase in the minimum wage,’ he said.
Shahjahan appealed to the conscience of the factory owners to fix the minimum wage to enable the workers to meet their daily requirements.
The government on June 6 set up the six-member minimum wage board with retired district judge AK Roy as chairman.
The workers’ representative to the board on August 18 proposed Tk 8,114 in the minimum gross monthly wage for a worker while the owners’ representative on September 17 proposed Tk 3,600 a month, a 20 per cent increase on the existing wage of Tk 3,000.
* Bangladesh garment workers stage biggest wage hike protest:
About 50,000 garment industry workers held their largest protest so far in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka to demand an increase of more than 1-1/2 times in the minimum wage, police and labour officials said on Saturday.
“Our backs are against the wall, so we don’t have any alternative unless we raise our voice strongly,” Nazma Akter, president of the United Garments Workers’ Federation, which groups 52 garment worker’s groups, told the peaceful protest.
“We will not hesitate to do anything to realize our demand.”
Bangladesh’s $20-billion garment export industry employs roughly 4 million workers who earn about 3,000 taka ($38) a month, or half what Cambodian factory workers now earn. They want a raise to 8,000 taka ($103) per month.
“We are not the object of mercy, the economy moves with our toil,” Akter added.
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* RMG units ‘forced’ to shut for a workers’ rally:
Garments Sramik Samannay Parishad organised the grand rally with Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan in the chair
The readymade garment factories in and around Dhaka were allegedly forced to shut down on Saturday afternoon so that the workers could attend a rally in the capital, RMG workers and owners said.
Labour leaders arranged transportation so that the workers could travel from their workplaces to the rally venue at Suhrawardy Udyan.
The Garment Workers Coordination Council (Garments Sramik Samannay Parishad) organised the grand rally with Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan in the chair.
Several thousand garment workers including those from 52 organisations attended the rally that began around 3pm. Many of them were wearing headbands with “Garment Sramik Samannay Parishad” inscriptions.
The rally follows the ruling Awami League’s initiatives to woo women workers by countering the campaign against them of Hefazat-e-Islam’s spiritual leader Shah Ahmad Shafi, who preached that women should not go out of home for work or shopping.