Dhaka, Sept. 21 (Reuters): 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 one-and-a-half times in the minimum wage, police and labour officials said today.
“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.
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.
Although the factory owners earlier agreed to a raise of just 20 per cent, the workers refused this, calling it“inhuman and humiliating”. The four-hour protest ended at 1200 GMT. “It is the largest gathering of its kind to realise their demand for raising wages,” said Dhaka police chief Habibur Rahman.