"Tens of thousands of Bangladeshi textile workers demanding better pay set fire to 14 more factories today, the second day of violent demonstrations that spread to the capital Dhaka.
"The demonstrators, including barefoot women, opened up a battlefield in the country's biggest textile industrial belt covering Dhaka and its adjoining industrial towns of Ashulia, Savar and Tongi, police said.
"Some 50,000 protesters armed with bamboo sticks and chanting slogans burnt garment factories at Ashulia, while police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse them, local police chief Jamiruddin Ahmed said.
"In the capital, more than 10,000 workers from Dhaka's Tejgaon industrial area and from the Mirpur, Uttara and Wari districts poured into the streets demanding better pay, overtime and a mandatory weekly holiday.
"The workers torched and smashed dozens of cars and buses and stormed dozens of factories before blocking major roads and bringing city traffic to a virtual halt, the Dhaka police control room said."
Update: This important class battle, which has been going on for over a month and is continuing, has already won notable—though far from sufficient—concessions:
"Following the unrest in the garment sector, the factory owners at a tripartite meeting late last month accepted almost all demands of the garment workers, including the right to form trade unions, weekly holiday, maternity leave and issuance of appointment letter and identity card. The meeting formed a minimum wage board comprising representatives from the government, the garment factory owners and SKOP [Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad, the trade-union federation] as the workers demanded increase of minimum salary from Tk 940 to Tk 3,000 because of the unprecedented price hikes of essentials." (New Age (Bangladesh)), June 29, 2006)
The garment industry in Bangladesh employs around two million workers in over 4,000 factories. Ninety per cent are women and girls; more than eighty per cent are between the ages of 14 and 29. Most are peasants who have migrated to the capital seeking work. They make up 75 per cent of the industrial labor force in this desperately poor and largely agricultural country, working in a sector that accounts for three-quarters of the nation's export earnings. But they receive little of this: according to Amirul Haq Amin, coordinator of the Bangladesh Garment Workers Unity Council, "The garment workers of Bangladesh may be the most deprived labor force in the world. Most are paid between US$14 to US$16 per month, the lowest salary in the world."
See anti-caste: INDUSTRIAL MASS MURDER IN BANGLADESH (March 13, 2006) and anti-caste: WORKFORCE OF 1.8 MILLION—MOST YOUNG AND FEMALE—DENIED LIVING WAGES, SAFE CONDITIONS, AND RIGHTS (May 01, 2005)