(Le 31 octobre 2009)
translated from Cette Semaine
(AFP) - 31 octobre 2009
DACCA - At least two people were killed and another 100 wounded Saturday after the Bangladeshi police opened fire on thousands of garment confection workers protesting against unpaid wages.
This is the most serious incident in the social conflict since the economic crisis struck Bangladesh.
The two people were killed in the in dustrial area of Tongi, 40km north of the capital, after about 15,000 workers began to throw stones at the police who responded, according to them, by shooting rubber bullets.
But according to one spokesman from the university hospital of Dhaka, "all the wounded had been struck by real bullets, and some of them are in very serious condition".
A number of policemen were wounded, and about one hundred demonstrators.
The workers had erected barricades and set fire to vehgicles, demanding the payment of three months' wages by their employer Nippon Garments, a Bangladeshi firm that shut down due to lack of orders.
According to a union leader, Nippon Garments had invited the workers to come to get paid on Saturday morning.
"But they shut down the factory during the night and sent the police to guard it. The workers were furious, saying that the bosses had gone without paying them."
The garment industry, which employs 40% of the country's industrial workforce, was responsible for 80% of Bangladesh's 15,5 billion dollars' exports from Bangladesh last year.
In June about 50,000 workers were confronted by police against unpaid demonstrators, causing hundreds of wounded.
According to Fazlul, president of the Association of industrialists and exporters of garments "Western distributors, who are our main buyers, have reduced orders and lowered prices."
Firms have reduced wages to hold on to orders in the face of competition from Vietnam, China and India.