Dhaka: Nearly 150 people were injured on Monday when thousands of angry textile workers in Bangladesh, the world’s second-largest garment exporter, clashed with police, looted firearms and vandalised factories, demanding nearly a three-fold hike in their salaries.
The authorities of almost all the readymade garment factories in Gazipur decided to suspend production at their units for the day having suffered from the unrest, Mosharraf Hossain, assistant superintendent of Gazipur Industrial Police, said.
Over 140 hurt people, including six police personnel, were injured in Gazipur and Savar, when aggrieved workers clashed with police.
According to police, workers of different factories gathered outside ‘Colossuses Apparels’ in Gazipur and vandalised the factory, attacking a paramilitary camp in Ansar.
The workers looted 8 rifles and 135 round of ammunition and set fire to them in front of the factory. Four of the looted rifles were recovered later.
“Six of our men were injured as they attacked the camp, set it on fire and looted four rifles along with ammunitions and damaged four other weapons... the fire, however, was doused immediately,” area commandant Alamgir Hossain told newsmen.
Several leaders of the agitating workers declined their involvement in the attack saying some miscreants might have taken the advantage as thousands took to the street to stage the protests.
Police said the road communications on Dhaka—Mymensingh and Dhaka—Aricha highways remained suspended for nearly four hours until extra policemen appeared at the scene and restored the order using batons, firing gunshots in the air and hurling tear gas canisters to disperse some 20,000 protestors.
Several vehicles were damaged as the workers came out on the streets demanding a minimum wage of USD 100 per month.
That forced managements of hundreds of factories in Gazipur, Savar and capital Dhaka to close down for the day.
Factory owners said Monday’s protests were the worst since 2010 when months of demonstrations forced the Government and factory owners to agree to a minimum monthly wage of 3,000 taka.