The past four days have seen widespread protests and rioting against the announcement of the new minimum wage structure for Bangladeshi garment workers.
Dhaka, capital city – last Friday morning (30th July), the day after the wage announcement ; in the Gulshan, Banani, Kakali, Mahakhali and Tejgaon areas of the city thousands of workers streamed onto the streets and began blockading the main highways with burning tyres. Police responded with teargas, truncheon charges and water cannon (the water is mixed with an indelible dye to aid catching demonstrators). But, heavily outnumbered, the cops could not contain the workers and the protests spread outwards. Making the link between their class status and the contrasting concentrations of wealth in the city landscape, workers were quite specific in their targets; as well as attacking garment factories, 200 businesses were targetted. In an unusual development that shocked many, the wealthy Gulshan Avenue neighbourhood – close to the diplomatic zone and embassy area of Baridhara – was invaded by 5,000 workers who smashed up offices, banks and shops. Media and TV offices were also attacked. “Gulshan police chief said the protesters had targetted the area’s high-end shops.”(3) (read more)