Protest-hit Bangladesh export zone to resume work

DHAKA - Factories in an export zone near the Bangladesh capital Dhaka will resume production on Thursday following violent protests by workers after the authorities promised their owners adequate security.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Tue 6 Jun 2006, 8:57 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 3:22 PM

The new chief of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA), Ashraf Abdulla Yusuf, held a meeting with the owners on Tuesday.

“We have been assured by the new chief ... and decided to reopen our factories on Thursday,” M.M. Masud, a member of Bangladesh export processing zone investors association, told Reuters.

All 84 factories, employing nearly 70,000 workers, at the Savar export zone, 25 km (15 miles) north of the capital, have been closed since Saturday after workers demanding higher wages, overtime and job security clashed with police, barricaded roads and burned production units or went on the rampage through them.

One worker was killed and many were injured in the clashes, police and officials said.

The government on Monday named the new BEPZA chairman after dismissing his predecessor Mohammad Zakir Hossain for failing to respond adequately to the situation and tackle the unrest.

“The investors (at Savar zone) have agreed to clear all dues of their workers by Monday next,” said Nazma Binte Alamgir, the authority’s spokeswoman.

The government and leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) told the workers their other demands would be considered soon.

Meanwhile, the authorities have also allowed formation of trade unions in garment factories to negotiate on pay and benefits, officials said.

Trouble began at the factories late last month after thousands of workers started agitating over job demands.

Business leaders had warned the unrest could spread to hundreds of other garment factories unless authorities controlled the disorder and found a peaceful solution to the disputes.

Garments are Bangladesh’s biggest export, bringing in more than $6 billion a year. The country has some 4,000 garment factories, employing around 2 million workers, mostly women.

Local and foreign entrepreneurs also threatened to leave the zones unless the government assured them it would protect their investments.



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