Wildcats; over 15,000 Bangladeshi garment workers "go berserk" and attack factories over non-payment and low wages

Narayanganj; RMG workers clash with cops - May 09

Two major outbreaks of garment workers' fury have occurred this week.

On Sunday night (May 10) at the Rupashi Sweater factory in Narayanganj (a river port town in central Bangladesh and centre of jute and textiles industries) bosses were attacked by a group of workers demanding their unpaid wages. When they turned up for work on Monday morning, workers found themselves locked out of the factory. The workers then marched to other factories - shouting slogans for higher wages - and brought out thousands of other workers. (Some reports indicate that two groups of workers clashed at one factory - whether because they refused to join the demonstrators and/or because they were hurt when the factory was attacked is unclear. Photos suggest the clash may have been between workers and security and management personnel of the factory attacked.) The violence quickly spread - 15,000 workers came out on to the streets and around 14 factories were attacked and vandalised. 15 vehicles were damaged as two main inter-city highways were blocked for 4 hours; the roads became a battleground between police and paramilitary forces (including the recently mutinous Bangladeshi Rifles) and enraged workers. Huge numbers of security forces used teargas and baton charges to finally disperse the workers by 1pm.

At Savar (also in central Bangladesh, a center of textiles and agriculture) garment workers used similar tactics. The bosses had earlier promised payment of three months owed wages. After failing to receive the arrears, on Monday afternoon hundreds of workers at the Doel Group factory first smashed some windows and office equipment; they then walked off the job and barricaded the busy main highway for over an hour. Police arrived; "A witness said that the garment workers went berserk after police clubbed them." A furious battle began, with workers using sticks and bricks to repulse baton charges. Police and paramilitaries resorted to tear gas and rubber bullets, finally clearing the area at 4pm. Workers trashed over 30 vehicles, including a police van. 50 people, including cops, were injured and one worker suffered a bullet injury.

These incidents are entirely typical of the increasing unrest in the garment industry. Real wages have declined as inflation rises; indicating how precarious and malnourished much of the workforce is, workers are now being given temporary food rations as an alternative to permanent wage increases.

Posted By

Red Marriott
May 12 2009 13:24


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May 12 2009 15:08

News of this sort is invaluable to the world movement. The situation in Bangladesh and in other countries all over the world for the workers in key industries is deplorable. It's upsetting to me that people believe "there is no proletariat," even as it is today the largest class of people on Earth, and the conditions of the proletariat today - and oftentimes their methods of struggle - are eerily reminiscent of those conditions and methods described in "The Conditions of the Working Class in 1844," by Frederick Engels. The only difference is that in the first world those conditions are hidden by spectacle, and in the so-called third world the lives of the workers are obfuscated and ignored completely by first world peoples - with the result that struggling and oppressed workers in the United States do not imagine that the great majority of Americans and of Earth's population share their class situation.

May 12 2009 16:47

Red Marut you deserve some anarcho award for all these stories.

May 12 2009 18:12

he won libcom contributor of the year a year or two back..

May 13 2009 19:31

A good and timely report on the class struggle in Bangla Desh with the workers coming directly up against the state with force.

May 13 2009 21:57
he won libcom contributor of the year a year or two back

i voted for him early and often. (i voted jef honorable mention.)
say steven, i hate to suggest more work for anyone, but is there a way to put the printer-friendly function on articles?

May 14 2009 08:46

Dhannyabad comrade! You got my vote.

Jun 2 2009 05:29

I like how you got the story. Very informative.
You'll do well in feature writing. wink

Jun 2 2009 09:02

Peter that feature will be coming, I'm sorry but please bear with us

Jun 2 2009 12:01

my patience is running extremely thin angry angry angry