A garment factory in Bangladesh. Image used for representational purposes only. Courtest Xinhua
On December 13, workers from the New Line Clothing Factory in Gazipur, a central industrial town 25 kilometers north of capital Dhaka, organized a protest and road blockade on the Dhaka-Tangail route demanding their delayed wages. Those employed at the factory have not been paid salaries for between three and five months, workers said. At least 10 people were injured when police took action to subdue the protest.
Police reportedly used batons and fired tear gas shells at the workers. Among the injured were a shop owner. After being dispersed, the workers reportedly regrouped in front of the factory to continue the protest.
Bangladesh’s ready-made garments industry is now the single biggest export earner for the nation and employs over 4 million people. The sector accounts for around 83% of the total export earnings of the country, with over USD 27.9 billion in export earnings in the 2019-20 financial year, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). However, the growth of the industry has seen increasing workers’ rights violations, poor working conditions, low and delayed wages, and the neglect of labor welfare. The plight of the workers in the sector caught global attention after massive tragedies in 2012 (Ashulia) and 2013 (Rana Plaza) led to the deaths of nearly 1,200 workers. November 24, 2022, marked a decade since the fire at Ashulia’s Tazreen Fashion factory killed 112 workers, and for which victims and their relatives are still demanding justice from the authorities.