In Bangladesh, protests continue as garment workers refuse to accept a wage increase.

In Bangladesh, protests continue as garment workers refuse to accept a wage increase.

Security forces remain vigilant outside garment factories following clashes between garment industry workers and the police over government-sanctioned wage hikes in the Ashulia area on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on November 8, 2023.

Witnesses reported that the protesters, demanding a wage increase twice as high as what the government offered, pelted the police with stones and vandalized several factories in the garment hub of Gazipur on the outskirts of the capital.

"We have managed to bring the situation under control," said local police spokesperson Imran Ahmed. Authorities have deployed additional police forces and paramilitary units to Gazipur and the nearby industrial belt of Ashulia, he added.

The garment industry is the backbone of Bangladesh's economy, accounting for 16 percent of GDP, and on Tuesday, the government announced that the minimum monthly wage would increase by 56.25 percent to 12,500 taka (155 Singapore dollars) from December 1, marking the first raise in Bangladesh in five years.

Workers want more. On Thursday, workers broke tools at several factories in Ashulia, forcing them to shut down, the police reported.

"Prices are rising rapidly. We simply demand fair pay. We won't return to work until our demands are met," said one of the protesters.

One woman was killed on Wednesday when the police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protests that coincided with violent anti-government demonstrations demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and calls for free and fair elections under a caretaker government.

Low wages have helped Bangladesh build its garment industry, with around 4,000 factories employing 4 million people supplying products to global brands like H&M and Gap.

The U.S. Association representing over 1,000 global brands has stated its intention to pay higher procurement prices to support higher worker wages in Bangladesh.