Dhaka textile workers intensify protest

Thousands of workers in Bangladesh have set fire to at least six garment factories in a second day of protests after a man was killed and scores more injured in clashes with police.

    Workers set fire to vehicles and clashed with police

    Witnesses and police said more than 100 vehicles were damaged in the violence that started on Monday in and around the capital, Dhaka, after police called in by factory owners tried to break up demonstrations by workers demanding higher pay and benefits.

    About 20,000 protesters, carrying bamboo sticks and chanting slogans, burnt the factories at Ashulia, north of the capital, as police fired tear gas to disperse them, police officer Shahedur Rahman said.

    Workers from the districts of Tejgaon, Mirpur, Uttara and Wari in Dhaka, came out onto the streets on Tuesday demanding better pay and overtime, as well as a mandatory weekly holiday.
      
    They clashed with police and attacked several factories before blocking roads and bringing city traffic to a virtual standstill, the Dhaka police said.

    AP reported that one protester, known only as Rana, 20, died on Tuesday of a gunshot wound to the back.

    Worsening violence

    A senior police official said Monday's protests saw at least 30 factories ransacked and dozens of vehicles smashed. Police had rescued a factory owner from the mob.

    A police officer said: "The violence is still spreading and it might worsen."

    One fire fighter said: "We are battling fires in at least half a dozen spots." 

    The authorities had called in riot police to try to bring the situation under control, officials said, after about 100 people including police were injured in the clashes.
       
    Clothes are Bangladesh's biggest export, fetching the country more than $6 billion a year. The industry employs nearly two million people.

    Bangladesh has more than 4,200 garment factories.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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