Bangladesh garment workers reject new wage rates

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Dhaka, Jul 30: Thousands of garment workers unhappy over their wages rampaged through central Dhaka on Friday, Jul 30, clashing with the police who used tear gas and batons to clear the streets.

The protests came a day after the government raised the monthly minimum wages for the country"s millions of garment workers by about 80 percent.

“We have tried our best to meet the demands of the workers," Labour Minister Khandaker Mosharaff Hossain told reporters.

Workers and labour leaders say the raise is inadequate and does not match the high cost of living.

“We can"t accept this raise, this is still very poor compared with the high cost of living," said Moshrefa Mishu, a labour leader.

The raise came about a week after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina criticized the garment industry for paying low wages to workers.

Police officers said, the protesters smashed vehicles and blocked traffic in Dhaka"s central Mahakhali district, the site of dozens of garment factories.

In recent months, thousands of garment workers demanding higher wages have protested on the streets, attacked factories and blockaded highways.

Garment workers in Bangladesh are paid the least in the world and have difficulty buying enough food and arranging shelter on their monthly earnings, according to the International Trade Union Confederation, a Vienna—based labour rights group.

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