Two Protesting Garment Workers died on Monday 18 November 2013 while more than a hundred got injured in clashes between the Industrial Police and Garment Workers over the recent Minimum Wage declared by the Minimum Wage Board 2013. The dead are Badsha Mia, 25, and Ruma Akter, 22, of GMS Composite Knitting Industries Ltd in Sardaganj of Kashimpur industrial belt. Protests were recording in Jamgorah, Shimultola, Gorat, Pukurpar, Ghoshbagh, Narshinghpur in Ashulia, Hemayetpur of Savar, Gazipur and Narayanganj District of the country. Apart from the dead, at least six workers have received bullet wounds and dozens of other protesters are in Enam Medical College Hospital and Dhaka Medical College Hospital receiving treatment. The protesters demand a minimum wage of around 8000BDT and a proportionate increase in the operators wage. The protests have been going on since months now and it has been the longest, strongest and the most talked about protest by workers in the history of Bangladesh.
After the agreement between the government backed Wage Board, the representative of the factory owners (BGMEA), and the representative of the worker (federations), it was decided that 5300BDT would be the minimum wage for garment workers and it will be applicable from 1 December 2013 after the publication of the final gazette and thus making into a law. However, the workers have been pressing for a minimum wage of at least 8000BDT and a proportionate increase of the Operator’s wage which is also very low. According to workers, anything lower than 8000BDT in Dhaka is below the most nominal subsistence cost of a human being with even a family of two.
57 Worker Federations united against the decision of the wage board, and the vagueness surrounding the proportionate increase of the wage of Operators who comprise of more than 70% of the garment sector; the federations went at far as declaring that if the wage board does not do anything about the situation then they will create a mass movement against them. However, in a surprising turnaround, the BGMEA later held a press conference along with the 57 Worker Federations where it was declared that until the Minimum Wage 2013 gazette has been published (21 November 2013) no worker federation will protest or be a part of any movement against the new minimum wage or its structure. The federations will however lodge a suggestion to the wage board during this time for their consideration.
Some Bangla TV News Footage of the clashes are cited below:
1. Watch between 12:58 to 15:00:
2. Watch between 09:58 to 12:03:
Peace through Justice,