DHAKA Dec 12 (Reuters) - At least three people were killed and more than 250 others were injured when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse wage protests by textile workers in Bangladesh on Sunday, police and doctors said.
Photo : AFP
Police said three male workers were killed and some 150 were injured in the main port city of Chittagong, some 300 km (190 miles) southeast of the capital Dhaka.
Around 50 others were injured in violence in Dhaka and another 50 were hurt in nearby Narayanganj town.
Police earlier said around 4,000 workers attacked police and vandalized at least 20 vehicles, including setting fire to one, in Chittagong.
Witnesses said garments workers clashed with police and smashed vehicles at Kuril in Dhaka. It took police several hours to bring the situation under control.
"We can so far confirm the death of one male worker," police officer Reza Al Masud told reporters in Chittagong.
Doctors at the emergency department of the Chittagong Medical College Hospital later said a total of three male bodies had been carried to the morgue from the scene. The violence forced some 300 industrial units, mostly garment factories, to close down in the Chittagong Export Procession Zone (CEPZ).
There are several garment factories owned by South Korean, Japanese and Chinese companies in the CEPZ, officials of the Bangladesh commerce ministry said. Factory officials and police said they would be reopened as soon as possible.
The government raised minimum monthly salaries for garment workers couple of months ago, but the protesters said they were not being paid accordingly.
The new minimum wage was raised to 3,000 taka ($43), from 1,662 taka ($24) earlier, payable from Dec. 1.
The labour minister, Engineer Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, urged restraint.
"I call upon the garment workers to calm down, new wages will be implemented in all garment factories for all employees," Mosharraf told reporters. Garments account for more than 80 percent of Bangladesh's annual exports worth of more than $16 billion.
Bangladesh has nearly 4,500 garment businesses employing 3 million workers, mostly women. (Reporting by Nizam Ahmed; Editing by Alex Richardson)