| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Bangladesh garment factories fire workers after protests, unions say

Bangladesh garment companies have dismissed hundreds of workers since October rallies for higher salaries, three labor unions representing half a million workers told Reuters this week, while many others have fled for fear of imprisonment.

Clashes during the protests, which took place alongside larger anti-government protests by the opposition ahead of the Jan. 7 general election, killed four workers and injured dozens more, with police filing vandalism cases against hundreds of unidentifiable people.

The government agreed in November to raise minimum wages by more than 56% to 12,500 taka ($114) a month, which many workers have still called too low. Bangladesh has become the world’s second-biggest garment exporter after China partly thanks to low wages.

The three unions – Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation, National Garment Workers Federation and Bangladesh Garments Workers Unity Council – estimated that 1,000 to 5,000 workers had either been fired in the last two months or had gone into hiding.

But Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said he was not aware of any retrenchments, adding that the industry body would act if “any such incidents are brought to our notice”.

Bangladesh’s Ministry of Labour did not respond to a request for comment. Momanul Islam, a senior police official in Ashila, a garment hub, said police had not arrested any garment workers for joining the protests.

  • Reuters