Twenty garment factories were closed down in Ashulia Industrial Area on Saturday as workers clashed with police while demonstrating for realization of their demands. The clash left at least 50 garment workers injured. Officer-in-Charge of Ashulia Police Station Badrul Alam said the workers of Natural Denim Garment factory staged demonstration to press for their various demands, including implementation of the new wage board for workers in the morning.
As a fresh round of clashes between apparel workers and police broke out over various demands of the former, US Congressman George Miller arrived in the capital on Saturday to have a first hand account of the Savar building collapse that killed 1127 garments workers and injured over 2,500.
In another incident, several thousand garment workers of Ashulia Industrial Belt staged demonstration demanding implementation of the new wage board.
Ashulia Industrial police inspector Faruk Hossain said the demonstration began when the workers of Knit Asia garment factory found an indefinite closure notice hung on the main gate of the factory.
Later, several thousand workers from the Ashulia Industrial belt, including Washing and Design Garment in Jamgarah, Jonron Garments and New Asia Garment in Narsinghapur went out of their workplaces and staged demonstration demanding implementation of the new wage board.
Later, they went to the Abdullahpur-Bipile road and tried to block the road. On information, police rushed in and brought the situation under control.
Later, the authorities of 20 garment factories suspended production in their factories following the unrest.
In Gazipur, several hundred garment workers of Board Bazar area blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway for about half an hour following rumour of death of a fellow worker in a road accident at Borobari in Gazipur on Saturday.
This visit of George Miller, the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, is taking place after one month of the Savar tragedy and also amid serial incidents of labour unrest in Ashulia and Gazipur, two main hubs of country’s RMG factories.
Commenting on his Dhaka visit Miller, the first Congressman to visit the country after the Savar incident, said, this trip to Bangladesh is an important opportunity to examine the circumstances surrounding the tragic events that have taken so many lives and maimed the lives of so many others.
“I hope to learn more about three particular aspects of these tragedies and American involvement in this burgeoning industry – worker safety and health conditions and the impact of the recently inked fire and building safety agreement, garment workers’ rights to form unions without fear of retaliation or persecution, and whether Bangladesh is guaranteeing labor rights and acceptable working conditions that are expected if the United States is to maintain tariff relief provided under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a decision on which is expected imminently,” Miller said in a statement released from Washington.
Miller has been pressing major American companies whose products are made in Bangladesh to sign onto a new binding and enforceable building and fire safety accord that has been signed by more than 31 companies worldwide.
While more than 30 large retailers and brands based in Europe and Canada have signed an enforceable agreement to increase safety and workers’ rights at readymade garment factories, only two American companies have joined this historic accord.
Most large American companies like Wal-Mart and GAP have so far refused to sign on. Rep. Miller has a long history of working against the use of sweatshops and has been urging major brands and retailers to sign on to this accord.
-With The Independent input