The Bangladesh government has asked the country's 5,000 clothing factories to submit details of their planned pay rises before 22 September in the hope of avoiding strikes and unrest before the Eid festival.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has advised its members to clear all outstanding dues immediately - and told just-style it intends to implement a 20% pay hike this month.

The government actions follow a spate of violence and vandalism in over 150 apparel factories across the country, and the threat of strike action if wages aren't increased.

Two dozen workers' unions have also threatened stoppages and other actions if the factories fail to increase wages and pay all arrears, September's wages and an Eid bonus by 25 September.

In Muslim Bangladesh, the religious festival Eid-ul-Fitr falls on 2 October.     

 "Over the last two years, food prices have doubled and other costs of living have shot up by 70-80%, yet the workers were hardly compensated," said Amirul Haq Amin, general secretary of the National Garment Workers Federation.

In 2006, the Bangladeshi government fixed minimum wages for garment workers at US$25 per month. Currently, the average monthly minimum pay for regulars is about $35.

By Jahir Ahmed.