A garment worker was killed and around 100 others were injured in clashes with police at Savar and Uttara in Dhaka and in Gazipur as workers continued demonstration for the third consecutive day on Tuesday for wage hike.
Workers said that the deceased, Sumon Miah, 22, was a finishing section operator of Anlima Yarn Dying Ltd at Ulail of Savar industrial belt.
A Savar Upazila Health Complex physician said the victim was brought there dead. He died from a gunshot wound on the left side of his chest, the doctor added.
Workers alleged that Sumon died in police shooting.
Director general of industrial police Abdus Salam said that a worker was killed but denied that he died in police gunshot.
He suspected that miscreants might have killed him to create unrest in the industrial belt.
Police said that unruly workers of different factories at Hemayatpur and Kathgora of Savar, Tongi and Konabari in Gazipur and capital’s Dakkhinkhan, Uttara and Abdullahpur clashed with police and staff leaving 100 people injured.
Police said that at least 30 police personnel, including an additional superintendent of Gazipur industrial police and an inspector, were injured as they tried to stop the workers from blocking busy Dhaka-Tangail Highway.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association vice-president Mohammed Nasir said that at least 35 factories could not operate due to the labour unrest in the capital, Gazipur and Savar.
Commerce minister Tipu Munshi and state minister for labour Monnuzan Sufian held an emergency meeting with factory owners and labour leaders at the department of labour to bring the situation under control.
The meeting decided to form a 10-member committee including five members of labour leaders and the rest from the owners to address the labour unrest over wages by reviewing the wage structure.
Tipu Munshi assured the workers that their problems would be resolved in a month and called upon them to return to work.
Labour leaders and factory owners attending the meeting also requested the workers to resume production as they would review anomalies in the wage board after analysis.
Protesters said that in October last year, the monthly minimum gross wage of apparel workers in the seventh grade was increased to Tk 8,000 from Tk 5,300. But the wages in other grades did not increase at the same rate.
The new wage structure disappointed the workers for which they were compelled to take the streets, Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre executive president Kazi Ruhul Amin told New Age.
In the 7th grade, the gross minimum wage increased by 51 per cent but it did not increase in the other grades proportionately, he said.
Workers said that the wages should be increased proportionately in all the grades without any delay.
In Savar, at least 10,000 workers from different garment factories including Standard Group and Dird Group at Hemayetpur clashed with police with intervals since morning, said witnesses.
Superintendent of Dhaka industrial police Sana Shaminur Rahman said that police charged baton and fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the workers who tried to blockade road and vandalise vehicles.
He said that at least 10 policemen were injured as the workers hurled stones on police.
The workers alleged that police raided their houses, beat them up and vandalised furniture at Hemayetpur.
The workers at Kathgora in Savar also clashed with police and observed work abstention to press their demand.
In Gazipur, workers of TN Fashion, Brother Fashion and Capital Fashion held demonstrations on the same demand, reports our Gazipur correspondent.
The agitated workers blocked Dhaka-Mymenshingh Highway halting traffic.
Bason Police Station officer-in-charge Muktadir Hossain in Gazipur said that the workers set fire to a motorcycle of police inspector Nandalal.
He said police fired tear gas shells and rubber bullet to disperse the workers as the workers also pelted stones.
Meanwhile, Garment Worker Trade Union Centre general secretary Joly Talukder claimed that Gazipur unit president of the union Ziaul Kabir Khokan was picked by a group of people identifying themselves as police around 12:30am today.
Several thousand workers from different garments in the capital’s Dakkhinkhan and Uttara also demonstrated on the same demand.
At Holan of Dakkhinkhan in the capital, several hundred readymade garment workers clashed with the staff of Nipa Group garment factories that left at least 10 from both the sides injured.
Witnesses said the workers tried to hold demonstration but the factory staff tried to stop them, which led to the clash.
Agitated workers set fire to a motorcycle and some equipment of the factory.
Nipa Group executive director Syed Mahmudul Islam said outsiders attacked the factory halting their production for the third consecutive day.
Workers of the factory, however, alleged that factory staff and local goons attacked them while they were in peaceful demonstration in front of their factory.
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