BANGLADESH: Garment workers to return to work
The leader of Bangladesh's clothing industry association has told just-style nearly 300 garment factories in the troubled Ashulia industrial zone in Bangladesh will reopen today (21 June).
This follows an assurance from the government that it would preserve security and arrest protestors who have damaged plants and vehicles owned by manufacturers.
It brings to an end almost a week of protests, with workers demanding pay rises, and vandalising property during conflicts in which police officers and activists were injured.
The assurances came in three-way talks involving unions, companies and the government at the country's labour ministry on Wednesday.
"The government has taken the responsibility for security and promised to bring the culprits to task," Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, the president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) told just-style last night.
He insisted that the government needs to address the issue of vandalism before anything else can be formally discussed by the industry, including pay, if there is a formal request by workers.
just-style was not able to reach union representatives for comment today, but last week there were conflicting statements from Bangladesh ministers regarding promised increases to the country's minimum wage - which some campaigners want raised by 50%.
The BGMEA chief vehemently contested the idea that ministers had committed themselves to such an increase.
In any case, the association had not collectively agreed to increase its wages, he said, although there has been movement. He cited a decision by the Ha-Meem Group, Bangladesh's largest export oriented manufacturer, to bring forward to July a pay rise for its workers that had been scheduled for November.
"This is not a collective decision taken by all garment factories. It is up to each factory to set their own rate of pay hike, as long as they do not go below the minimum wage limit," he said.
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