DHAKA, June 19 (Xinhua) -- A High Court Division bench of Bangladesh Tuesday issued a rule upon two apex bodies of thousand of garment exporters to explain in four weeks why the decision of shutting down some 300 factories at a mega industrial belt in the country's Ashulia on the outskirts of capital Dhaka should not be declared illegal.
In the wake of workers' unrest demanding wage hike during the last week, two bodies of Bangladeshi readymade garment makers -- Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters' Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association ( BKMEA) -- shut the factories in Ashulia for an indefinite period from Sunday. The High Court bench came up with the rule hours after a writ petition was filed challenging the BGMEA and BKMEA's decision of closing the factories which employ nearly half a million workers.
Three separate unions of garment workers jointly filed the petition seeking directives from the court on the authorities concerned to open and run all the garment factories in the industrial hub.
The unions stated that the closure is hampering fundamental rights of workers who depend on the sector for their livelihood.
The bench, however, asked the government to explain why it should not be directed to provide securities at garments factories in Ashulia.
Hundreds of people have been injured and over 150 vehicles vandalized during the weeklong protest over wage hike in Ashulia which also spread to many other industrial zones.
Unrest mostly over wage issue in Bangladesh's garment sector, which contributes more than two thirds of export earnings, is very common in the country.
The Bangladeshi garment workers now demand a rise between 1,500 taka and 2,000 taka from their present minimum wage of 3,000 taka a month, saying soaring prices of essentials and hike in house rent at Ashulia created untold sufferings for them.
The owners say they are not in position now to bear the burden of another wage hike as the second bout of the global market recession along with many internal odds including gas and power crisis have dealt a blow to the garment sector comprising of over 4,000 factories.
The Bangladeshi government in July, 2010 announced 3,000 taka ( about 42.9 U.S. dollars) as the minimum monthly wage for the country's around 3 million garment workers, an over 80 percent hike from the previous pay in a month. (1 U.S. dollar equals to 79 taka)