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Garment workers demonstrate in Bangladesh to demand wages

Several hundred workers who produce garments for global fashion brands have demonstrated in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka to demand payment of their wages amid a nationwide shutdown over the novel coronavirus pandemic, police said on Thursday.

The workers of at least three factories gathered in different parts of the city asking the owners to pay their unpaid salary for the month of March, officer Taib Ali Sardar said.

Non-payment of the wages by some factory owners prompted the workers to gather on the streets, he said.

“But, we have managed [to get] them to go back home after negotiations with the owners,” Sardar said. He added the owners promised to pay the wages due shortly.

The Bangladeshi government has asked the owners to pay the workers’ salary by Thursday as most of the nearly 4,000 factories are shut because of the anti-coronavirus shutdown.

Taslima Akher, head of the Bangladesh Garment Workers’ Solidarity, alleged some owners laid their factory workers off without proper compensation, putting the workers in a dire situation.

Many workers outside Dhaka also took to the streets on Thursday to demand their salary.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said workers were paid in nearly 87 per cent factories.

“We are trying to manage a fund for the rest of the factories, and hopefully be able to pay by April 22,” Rubana Huq, the president of the BGMEA, said.    

Read also: Expert: Italy not ready to reopen amid ‘hidden iceberg’ of infections

The Bangladeshi government earlier announced a 590-million-dollar package to help pay workers’ wages in the garment sector, which employs more than 4 million people, mostly women, to cushion the shock of virus pandemic. (dpa)

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Augustine Aminu

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