A female worker was killed and 20 others, including five police officers, were injured in a clash between law enforcers and the workers at the Korean Export Processing Zone in Chittagong yesterday afternoon.
The agitated workers of Karnaphuli Sportswear Industries (KSI), part of Youngone Group which owns the Korean EPZ, also set a factory warehouse on fire and vandalised machines, demanding proper implementation of the newly announced wage board for workers.
Inspector Arifur Rahman Arif of the Industrial Police in Chittagong told the Dhaka Tribune that the workers got into an altercation with factory officials around 1pm while receiving payment under the new pay scale, they claimed were getting less than their due payments.
Later, the agitated workers confined the officials and staged demos inside the factory, he said. They went on a rampage when the factory authorities called police to control the situation.
The workers hurled brick chips at the police leaving five policemen injured, said Mostak Ahmed, additional deputy commissioner (ADC) of Chittagong Metropolitan Police Port Zone.
“Police fired tear gas and bullets during the incident to calm the situation,” he said.
“A female worker was killed and several others injured during the clash,” he said, adding that additional police, industrial police, Armed Police Battalion and Rab had brought the situation under control at around 4:30pm.
Jahirul Islam, a sub-inspector at the Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) Police Outpost, said the deceased, Parvin Akhter, 20, who hailed from Anwara upazila, had a severe injury to her head.
Twelve other workers – Kajol Das, 28, Ruzi Akhter, 18, Monjur, 18, Tania, 17, Morshed, 22, Joni, 22, Nobi Hossain, 22, Tipu, 19, Md Sohel, 22, Roksana, 22, Md Jasim, 28, Jahangir, 25, three policemen, Constable Chandmoni, Raton Dewan and Abdul Matin and a security guard, Tajibur Rahman, 38, were admitted to CMCH.
Din Mohammad, a worker at the KSI factory who was also injured during the clash, told the Dhaka Tribune at CMCH that they were given about Tk1,000-Tk1,200 less than their salary under the new pay scale.
“In addition to paying less, the authorities have also increased our lunch bill from Tk52 to Tk650 per month,” said Jahedul Islam, a cutting helper of the factory. The lunch bull is deducted from their salary.
Sohel, another worker of the factory, said their transport allowance had been reduced from Tk450 to Tk200, and the company was implementing the new wage board by reducing other facilities.
No official from Youngone or KSI could be reached to comment on the issue, even after repeated attempts by phone. Nasir Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury, the first vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told the Dhaka Tribune that they were instructing the garment factory owners to pay the workers under new wage board.
“The owners have been facing various problems including the political unrest,” he said, but added that they were optimistic about overcoming the situation within a short time.
Earlier, at least 38 persons, including eight policemen, were injured in a clash between the RMG workers and police at Chittagong Export Processing Zone area in the city on January 4, when the workers staged a demo demanding implementation of the new wage board.