Bangladesh Garment Workers Met With Violence During Protest for Higher Wages
Garment workers protesting for a higher minimum wage in Bangladesh yesterday were attacked with water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas.
The workers, who closed over 100 factories to protest, were demanding a raise in the minimum wage from the current $38 per month to $100 per month. Bangladesh's wage board has proposed to raise the minimum wage by 77 percent to $66 per month - far less than the requested $100. According to the International Labor Organization, Bangladesh garment workers are the worst paid in the world; they make only 14 percent of a living wage.
"Owners are indifferent to our demand," said a protester, according to Reuters. "They are not even ready to pay what the wage board proposed."
Bangladesh's Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association believes that raising the minimum wage will increase costs too much and require Western customers to pay more for exported products. However, raising wages would have a miniscule effect on prices that Western consumers pay. "Raising wages by 80% would add only about 25 cents per T-shirt," Rubana Huq, managing director of large garment exporter Mohammadi Group, told The Wall Street Journal. "As manufacturers, we can only hope for the retailers to accommodate this increase."
Garment workers have held several strikes and protests demanding better pay and working conditions since the deadly Rana Plaza collapse that killed 1,127 people in April.
Media Resources: BBC 11/4/13; Reuters 11/11/13; The Wall Street Journal 11/5/13; Feminist Newswire 4/26/13, 9/24/13