One dead, at least 25 injured in Bangladesh workers’ protest

A man throws brickbet towards police during clashes as Bangladeshi striking garments workers march in the streets of Dhaka on Jan. 8, 2019 during a third day of demonstration to demand wage hikes. (AFP)
Updated 08 January 2019
0

One dead, at least 25 injured in Bangladesh workers’ protest

  • Around 100 factories in the Savar area suspended operations to prevent further trouble
  • In a bid to resolve the pay row, a meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon

DHAKA: A protester was shot dead and at least 25 other people were injured on Tuesday during clashes between police and factory workers in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.
Hundreds of staff employed in the garment-making industry took to the city’s streets for a third consecutive day of action in demonstrations over controversial new pay structures.
Health officials confirmed that one person had died from a gunshot wound received when police and workers clashed in the capital’s Savar industrial district where many of the clothing manufacturing plants are based.
From early morning, protesters had taken to the streets, blocking traffic on busy main roads and routes to Dhaka International Airport. As police attempted to disperse the workers, at least 25 people were injured, including some police officers.  
Around 100 factories in the Savar area suspended operations to prevent further trouble.
Dr. Wajedul Islam Khan, general secretary of the Trade Union Center, blamed the protests on “long-standing discrimination over wages.” He claimed that under new pay scales the basic salary of some garment workers had been reduced.
Nazma Akter, president of the Combined Garment Workers’ Federation, said a lack of communication between workers and factory owners about the new wage structures was one of the causes of the latest unrest.
However, she called for an end to the protests and told Arab News: “Discussion with the management will bring the ultimate solution. Anarchy will not solve the problems.”
In a bid to resolve the pay row, a meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon between all sides in the dispute. It was presided over by State Minister for Labor Affairs Munnujan Sufian. Garment entrepreneur and Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi was also present along with garment owners’ association officials and trade union leaders.   
Siddikur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told Arab News that a committee comprised of five trade union leaders and five representatives of the government and factory owners had been given a month to prepare a full report on the matter.
Rahman said he hoped workers would return to their factories on Wednesday.
More than 4 million workers, mostly female, are employed in the apparel sector in Bangladesh which last year exported more than $30 billion worth of goods, making it the second-largest readymade garment exporter in the world after China.
Following pressure from garment workers, the Bangladeshi government raised their minimum monthly pay from $60 to $100 on September 2018, a move which came into effect from December 2018. But several trade unions rejected the increase and demanded a minimum wage of at least $150.
The latest pay protests are nothing new in the sector. In December 2016, hundreds of garment workers demonstrated in Dhaka and Savar demanding a basic wage of $200, and more than 100 arrests were made.
The dispute lasted until December 2017 when a wage board was formed, finally leading to an agreement.


At least 10 dead as fire rages on Black Sea ships

Updated 48 min 57 sec ago
0

At least 10 dead as fire rages on Black Sea ships

  • Twelve people were rescued from the burning vessels but there was little hope of finding any more survivors
  • The strait connects both Russian and Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea to the Black Sea

MOSCOW: Ten crew died and another 10 were missing presumed dead in a fire that broke out on two ships while they were transferring fuel in the Black Sea, Russia’s Transport Ministry said on Tuesday.
The vessels which caught fire on Monday have the same names as two Tanzania-flagged ships, the Maestro and Venice, which last year were included on a US sanctions advisory as delivering fuel to Syria.
Twelve people were rescued from the burning vessels but there was little hope of finding any more survivors, a spokesman for the Transport Ministry’s maritime unit said. The focus had switched from a rescue operation to a search for bodies, he added.
The spokesman said the vessels, which had a combined crew of 32, were still on fire and rough no attempts were being made to put out the blaze because of rough sea conditions.
Russian maritime officials said on Monday that the vessels were carrying out a ship-to-ship transfer of fuel in the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from Russia.
On Nov. 20 last year, the US Treasury Department added nine Russian and Iranian individuals and companies on its sanctions list for participating in the shipment of petroleum to Syria.
It also issued an advisory note warning of the potential sanctions risk for any entities involved in such shipments which listed 35 ships, including the Maestro and Venice, as having delivered oil to Syria between 2016 and 2018.
Reuters reported in December that both the Maestro and Venice continued operations after the Treasury announcement, and regularly entered Crimea’s Temryuk port, according to Refinitiv data.
In the port, liquefied petroleum gas of Russian and Kazakh origin is transferred onto tankers for export, via the Kerch Strait.
The strait, between Russian-annexed Crimea and southern Russia, connects both Russian and Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea to the Black Sea.
In November, Russia detained three Ukrainian navy vessels and their crews in the vicinity of the strait, fueling tensions between the two countries. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.