Riot police fired tear gas to battle thousands of stone-throwing garment workers who rampaged through two industrial towns in Bangladesh during a protest over wages Tuesday that closed at least 200 factories and left dozens of people injured, police said.
The protesters built roadblocks with abandoned vehicles and wooden logs in violence that highlighted the poor working conditions in an industry that earns Bangladesh $20 billion in exports yearly but whose workers are the lowest paid in the world.
Thousands of angry workers hurled stones at security forces and attacked factories in the towns of Savar and Ashulia outside the capital, Dhaka, Industrial Police Director Mustafizur Rahman said. At least 200 factories closed in the second day of the protest, and 80 people were injured over two days.
Authorities deployed hundreds of paramilitary border guards to help police fighting the protesters.
"We can't accept the wages that are being offered to us. This is not enough for us," said Kahirul Mamun Mintu, a protest leader at Savar. "Our movement will continue until our demands are met."
A government-appointed panel voted last week to raise the minimum wage for garment workers to 5,300 takas ($66.25) a month — a raise by 77 percent but still the lowest minimum wage in the world. The workers are demanding 8,114 takas ($100) instead.
Factory owners have not endorsed the proposal, arguing the proposed wage for an unskilled newcomer would increase production costs...
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