Bangladesh hit by food price riots

Thousands of textile workers demand better wages to meet high food prices.

Textile workers clash in Bangladesh
Soaring food prices in Bangladesh have led to a violent public outcry [AFP]
Bhuiyan Mahbub Hasan, the local police chief, said that representatives of the military, labour and manufacturers would meet in an attempt to diffuse the unrest.
‘Hidden hunger’

Bangladesh’s food minister had earlier said that the shortfall in the domestic grain output as well as rising global prices had created a “hidden hunger” in the country, which had intensified in the last few months.

The country’s garment manufacturers and textile workers earn some of the lowest salaries in the world.

With basic monthly salary as low as $25, textile workers are some of the worst hit in Bangladesh.

Nazma Akhter, president of the United Garments Workers Union, said: “The $25 basic minimum salary was fixed in 2006. But since then prices of rice and other food items have almost doubled or tripled.”

Akhter said that while workers have been demanding a rise in their salaries, the textile owners rejected their pleas.

He said even foreign buyers had reduced the prices of Bangladeshi products in the recent months, which compounded the problem.

Anti-inheritance protest

The clashes over low wages came a day after about 100 people were injured in Dhaka in violence between police and religious demonstrators over equal rights for women.
About 5,000 men fought against the police outside the main mosque in the capital.

Police used tear gas and batons against the protesters.

Mazharul Islam, deputy police commissioner, said at least 40 policemen were injured as protesters threw bricks and stones.

The three-hour skirmish was initiated by activists belonging to the Committee to Resist Anti-Quran Laws, a coalition of Islamic parties.

The protests were against a women’s development policy adopted in March by the government, advocating equal property rights for women.

Dozens were injured in similar clashes on Thursday.

Source: News Agencies