Striking Bangladesh garment workers clash with police as factories reopen

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Striking Bangladesh garment workers clashed with police on Saturday near the capital as factories reopened in defiance of a protest campaign demanding a near-tripling of wages.

The workers, who make clothes for some of the world’s biggest brands, have been on strike since November 1, demanding a minimum monthly wage of 16,000 taka ($190), up from the current 5,300 taka ($63).

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), which represents more than 4,000 factories, said it had reopened more than 300 units on Saturday after a week-long closure due to the unrest.

But the workers refused to resume work and staged demonstrations in several industrial zones on the outskirts of Dhaka, the capital, and in the port city of Chittagong.

Police said they fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, who threw stones and blocked roads. At least 50 people, including workers and police, were injured in the clashes, according to local media reports.

The workers’ union, the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF), accused the police of using excessive force and violating the workers’ right to peaceful protest.

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