BANGLADESH police yesterday fired rubber bullets and tear gas at tens of thousands of garment workers as they rioted in a key industrial area outside Dhaka, demanding a reduction in working hours.
The workers left their factories and joined the protest, torching a police post and four police vehicles at Narayanganj, 20 kilometres south of the capital, authorities said.
"There were more than 100,000 workers. They were peaceful initially, but suddenly they stormed a police post at Shimrail and set it on fire," Narayanganj police chief Sheikh Nazmul Alam told AFP.
"We fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the rioters," he said, adding two policemen were critically injured during the clashes. He could not say whether or how many workers were hurt.
Alam said a rumour over a killing of a worker at a factory at Adamjee Export Processing Zone, where plants sew clothing for leading international chains, sparked the protest, forcing the zone's scores of factories to draw shutters.
It later became a full-blown riot — the worst since June when hundreds of factories closed their shops for more than a week — as labourers demanded shorter work hours, workplace security and other benefits, he added.
Tens of thousands of workers also blocked a major highway, halting transport movement between Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong for more than four hours.
Bangladesh's three million garment workers typically work 10-hour shifts and some for up to 16 hours a day for the world's lowest textile wages, starting at US$37 a month.AFP
Monday, September 17, 2012
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