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Bangladesh Factories Reopen After Strike Called for Threefold Wage Hike

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After five days of no work over wage demands, garment workers in Bangladesh are back on the job.

At least 55 factories in the Ashulia area were closed last week when workers walked out over demands for better wages and the empty factories had little choice but to shutter. Operations have now resumed at all of the factories, according to the Financial Express.

Workers had been fighting for 16 different changes, including a minimum wage increase to 16,000 Bangladeshi taka ($202) per month—a nearly three-fold increase from the current 5,300 taka ($67).

The minimum wage was last raised to 5,300 taka in 2013, which, at the time, was a 77 percent increase from what workers had been earning.

This time, however, the standoff between workers and leadership was less successful.

Workers reportedly clashed with police during demonstrations, went on so deemed “rampages” inside factories, according to the Financial Express, and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) called the whole thing illegal, saying workers wouldn’t be paid for their absence. Negotiations with workers’ organizations were said to have gone on without a settlement.

On Sunday, BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman said, citing orders from the country’s prime minister, that the shuttered facilities would be reopened from Monday, and workers appear to be facing a multitude of punishments for their acts.

According to the Financial Express, more than 1,000 workers are being accused of things like instigation, vandalism, trespassing and theft. Nineteen workers’ leaders have been arrested, as has one journalist for incitement.

And workers are getting fired too.

Ha-Meem Group reportedly let 91 workers go and Windy Apparels Limited and Fountain Garments Manufacturing Limited may have laid off as many as 256 workers.

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