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Garment workers continue 6th day of strike action in Bangladesh

BANGLADESHI garment workers have continued their action for a sixth day, in defiance of tear gas and water cannon attacks with police firing rubber bullets at thousands of protesters in the capital Dhaka.

One protester was killed in demonstrations earlier this week, prompting the government to consider a raise in the minimum wage in order to quell the growing unrest.

However workers continued their strike action, with more than 50 factories believed to have been shut down as workers took to the streets again demanding higher wages and improved conditions in the garment industry.

Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest garment exporter behind China, however the industry has a poor safety record with the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster, in which an overcrowded factory collapsed killing 1,134 people branded a “mass industrial homicide.”

Wages are the lowest anywhere in the world and workers are demanding a minimum monthly wage of 10,000 taka (£93) with unions warning that government proposals will only benefit a small minority in the garment industry.

Global brands that manufacture in Bangladesh include H&M, Zara, Walmart, Tesco, Kappa, Tommy Hilfiger, and Calvin Klein with the $30 billion (£23.4bn) industry accounting for 80 per cent of the country’s exports.

Riot police have been deployed with more than 5,000 taking to the streets of Dhaka with police chief Rezual Haque saying they had “no choice” but to use tear gas as protesters blocked the highway.

Union leaders have called for negotiations with the newly re-elected government of Sheikh Hasina to end the impasse.

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

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