January 9, 2019 / 6:25 AM / 2 months ago

Bangladesh clashes prompt garment industry wage review

DHAKA, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Bangladesh, the world’s second biggest garment exporter behind China, will consider demands for an increase in the minimum wage, a minister said, after a third day of clashes with police that killed one worker and wounded dozens.

Protests resumed on Wednesday with workers blocking roads and burning tyres near the capital, Dhaka, but no violence was reported.

The government formed a panel of factory owners, union leaders and government officials to investigate the pay demands, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said on Tuesday.

“The committee will be able to sort out the problems and hopefully in one month this will be resolved,” Munshi said.

Thousands of workers blocked roads just north of Dhaka on Tuesday, police and union leaders said. One worker was shot dead and dozens of workers, and some police, were wounded.

The garment industry generates around $30 billion of exports a year, accounting for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s merchandise export earnings and serving some of the biggest brands in the world.

“We urge the government to sit with us and settle the issue, otherwise the movement will continue,” Ruhul Amin, executive president of Garments Trade Union Centre, told Reuters.

The government said in September that the minimum wage for garment workers would increase by up to 51 percent this year to 8,000 taka ($95) a month, the first such increase since 2013.

But workers say that increase will benefit only a small percentage of workers. (Writing by Euan Rocha; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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