20 injured as Bangladesh garment workers clash with police

Workers of two apparel factories have engaged in clashes with the police after barricading key roads in the garment manufacturing hub of Gazipur, demanding an extended Eid vacation.

Industrial police said the workers blocked roads in Tongi’s Mill Gate area and Biswaspara area in Kaliakoir Upazila on Monday.

At least 20 people injured in the incident were given first aid, according to the police.

“Workers of Ha-Meem Group in Tongi demanded a vacation of 10 days against the government’s announcement of three days’ break. They resorted to vandalism at the factory in the afternoon before blocking the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway,” said Jalal Uddin, additional superintendent of Gazipur Industrial Police (zone-2).

“When the police tried to remove them, they threw brickbats at the police. Later, the police fired several rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets to bring the situation under control.”

Clashes disrupted traffic for about 20 minutes.

Md Delowar Hossain, a worker of Ha-Meem Group, said: “The workers demanded a 10-day vacation in place of three. The authorities later promised to accept a seven-day break.”

“At one point, the police attacked us and opened fire. Some workers were shot.”

Dr Parvez Hossain, a doctor of Shahid Ahsan Ullah Master General Hospital, said at least 20 workers injured in the clashes were provided with first aid. “An injured member of the police was also treated with first aid,” he said.

In Kaliakoir, workers of Star Link Design Ltd launched a protest demanding a 12-day Eid vacation.

Asma Khatun, a worker of the factory, said, “After arriving at work in the morning, the workers came to know about the three-day Eid vacation. They then halted work and took position on the Dhaka-Tangail Highway  in front of the factory in a show of protest.”

Later, they went off after factory authorities announced a 10-day Eid holiday, said Gazipur Industrial Police Inspector Md Kamar Uddin.

Police have been deployed around both the factories, he added.

In Mirpur’s Kalshi area, workers of Standard Apparel took to the streets and demanded an extension of the Eid holidays.

The workers gathered in front of the 22-floor building around 12 pm before law enforcers removed them. They, however, regrouped around 2 pm, demanding that the Eid break be extended to 10 days from three.

Mirpur police said the factory authorities extended their vacation to six days but the workers were not satisfied with it.