On 31 October 2023, Dhaka was witness to workers from garment factories protesting on the streets of the capital city of Bangladesh, as well as the industrial zone of Gazipur. The workers were demanding better wages.
These garment workers presently earn a minimum wage of 8,300 takas or $75 per month. Since this meager amount does not help fulfil their basic needs, the workers often work extra hours to earn more.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is a trade association that represents the readymade garment industry, especially the woven garments, knitwear and sweater industries. The Association had proposed that the minimum wages of the workers be increased by 25 per cent, which would increase their monthly earnings from a minimum of $75 to $90. However, the workers have been demanding a minimum of $208 per month.
Frustrated workers had to resort to demonstrations and protests, and reportedly even vandalised public property in some places in Dhaka. As per media reports, two people even lost their lives amidst the protests. Police had to fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets in a bid to control the mob.
Being amongst the largest garment producers in the world, Bangladesh has almost 3,500 factories that provide a source of livelihood to about four million, mostly women. The country is second only to China in terms of garment manufacturing.