More than 10,000 Bangladeshi garment workers attacked factories with stones and blocked streets Friday in the capital Dhaka to demand higher minimum wages, police said.
The workers went on the rampage in the city's northern Mirpur area, where there are a large number of garment factories and workshops, local police officer Arshadul Huq told AFP.
"The garment workers blocked the main Mirpur highway and hurled stones at nine factories," he said.
Police had to baton-charge the protesters to quell the unrest, he said.
The protest came despite a promise Wednesday by Labour and Manpower Minister Mosharraf Hossain to give the workers a "substantial (wage) increase" within three months.
Hossain said a new wage board had been set up to propose new basic pay levels for the country's 2.5 million garment workers.
"We are protesting because we don't have any faith in the government to implements its promises," Mosherefa Mishu, head of the Garment Workers Unity Forum, one of the country's leading garment unions.
The Mirpur unrest followed mass protests earlier in the week when 35,000 workers shut the highway between Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong, demanding entry-level salaries be fixed at 5,000 taka (72 dollars) a month.
Bangladesh is one of the world's cheapest manufacturing sites with a minimum wage of around 1,700 taka (25 dollars) per month.
This rate was put in place after a string of deadly protests in 2006 killed dozens and saw hundreds of factories vandalised or torched.
Mishu said the 2006 minimum wage was still not enforced in some factories, and she suspected the actual increase agreed on by government and manufacturers might be far smaller than that promised.
Garments accounted for nearly 80 percent of Bangladesh's 15.56 billion dollars of exports last year. The country's 4,500 factories employ around 40 percent of the industrial workforce, most of them women.
Current wages are "below the poverty line" and have "contributed to unrest" among workers, the letter said.
Source: AFP South Asian Edition