Skip to main content

Bangladesh apparel workers clash with police

By Farid Ahmed, CNN
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Tue September 24, 2013
  • Bangladesh apparel workers clash with police on outskirts of Dhaka
  • Workers fought pitched battles with police; set fire to vehicles, buildings
  • Cabinet minister calls for calm

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Thousands of apparel workers clashed with police in Bangladesh, demanding higher pay on Monday, police and officials said.

The workers are demanding a minimum monthly pay of $104 revising the present $38 a month.

Police said violence mostly erupted in Gazipur and Savar, on the outskirts of capital Dhaka, where there are hundreds of apparel factories producing clothes for leading global brands from Europe and America.

The workers fought pitched battles with police and set fire to vehicles and part of some apparel factories in Gazipur, forcing the owners to shut down all factories in Gazipur district and its adjoining areas.

Labor safety in Bangladesh
Shoppers have a Bangladesh quandary

Factories face inspections after safety deal

Several thousand workers also took to the streets in capital Dhaka, but they were dispersed by police and did not appear to commit any violence.

A cabinet minister Shahjahan Khan after a meeting with the factory owners and representatives of the workers called for calm and asked the workers to return to work.

16 days buried in the rubble

Khan himself led a huge rally of the apparel workers in the capital on Saturday, demanding $104 as minimum monthly wage for the workers.

The recent unrest began Saturday when workers were denied leave from the factories to join Khan's rally.

Inside a Bangladesh garment factory

Khan, however, at a news briefing on Monday said the unrest might be linked to outsider involvement, but did not give any details.

"Additional forces will be deployed to maintain law and order in the industrial districts," said Khan, also a transport labor leader.

Promise of a new start after recovery efforts in building collapse

The government recently constituted a wage board for fixing minimum wages for apparel workers, but the board was yet to come to a final decision, while the owners offered a 20% rise.

Bangladesh earns about $20 billion a year, 80% of the total export, by selling clothes to European and American brands.

In April 2013, over 1,100 people were killed when an eight-story apparel factory building caved in and collapsed in Savar.

In November 2012, a fire at an apparel factory in Savar killed 112 people.

Opinion: The bloodshed behind our cheap clothes

Part of complete coverage on
Tragedy in Bangladesh
updated 5:36 PM EDT, Wed May 15, 2013
Reshma, the last survivor of the collapse, describes 17 harrowing days buried underground in pitch-black darkness.
updated 3:49 AM EDT, Mon May 13, 2013
A well-placed pool of water and an air pocket appear to have combined to help a young woman survive in the rubble for more than two weeks.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Thu May 9, 2013
Questions remain over who was ultimately responsible for the Bangladesh tragedy. Is the huge profit buyers make on clothes ethical?
updated 7:30 AM EDT, Fri May 3, 2013
It costs more than three times as much to make a denim shirt in the U.S. as it does in Bangladesh. We break down the numbers.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu May 2, 2013
CNN's Christiane Amanpour asks Bangladesh's prime minister why more wasn't done to prevent a building collapse which killed more than 400.
updated 6:50 AM EDT, Fri May 3, 2013
Prime Minister acknowledges nation's garment industry is beset with problems, but says her government is trying to fix them.
updated 3:08 PM EDT, Tue May 7, 2013
A nurse who was meant to be on the Boston Marathon finishing line finds herself treating trauma victims in Bangladesh.
updated 5:51 PM EDT, Thu May 2, 2013
CNN's Richard Quest talks to the editor of Women's Wear Daily, James Fallon, about the garment industry in Bangladesh.
updated 5:23 AM EDT, Thu May 2, 2013
CNN's Jim Boulden reports on the growing pressure on clothing companies after a Bangladeshi garment factory collapsed.
updated 6:04 AM EDT, Wed May 1, 2013
Journalist David Bergman discusses why the Bangladeshi government said no to international rescue offers.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Fri May 3, 2013
Despite the many warnings of dangerous cracks in the walls. thousands were still sent to work to proceed with business as usual.
updated 6:04 AM EDT, Tue April 30, 2013
After so much horror and heartache, the death of one woman they were trying to rescue was too much for emergency crews.
updated 3:05 PM EDT, Tue May 28, 2013
Fire breaks out in the rubble of a collapsed Bangladesh building, and one girl recalls the choice she was given: Your hand or your life.