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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 December 2010

Garment workers demand a living wage

ONCE AGAIN thousands of textile workers in Bangladesh were forced to take to the streets last week to demand that all employers pay the new monthly minimum wage which was meant to be implemented by 1 December following protests last July.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters in the capital Dhaka and in the port city of Chittagong. According to press reports three people were killed and 250 injured.

These workers are some of the lowest paid in the world, producing garments for highly profitable western companies such as Tesco, Walmart, Marks & Spencer, etc.

The new minimum wage - up from $23 a month to $43 a month (and deemed inadequate by workers who demanded $75) - is the maximum wage that factory owners are prepared to pay. Trade unions say that the cost of living has soared by 200% since the last increase in the minimum wage in 2006 (which in turn had been unchanged since 1994) affecting 2.5 million, mainly women, workers.

Bangladesh's garment exports have increased to around $12 billion a year (80% of Bangladesh's export earnings) from just $5 billion in 2002, fuelled by low labour costs that have attracted top western brands.

Interview with organiser of protests against multinational energy companies in Bangladesh

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In The Socialist 15 December 2010:


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