DHAKA Oct 14 Workers at a Bangladeshi garment
factory on Monday freed a garment factory boss they had held
captive in his office for more than 18 hours after he paid a
The incident was the first involving the forced confinement
of a factory boss in months of confrontation between management
and workers earning minimum wages equivalent to $38 a month,
half what Cambodian garment workers earn.
A trade union leader said the incident was a "positive
development" as workers had achieved their aim "peacefully".
Police said workers went to the Tuba Group factory on
Saturday to demand payment of their bonus for the Eid al-Adha
holiday in overwhelmingly Muslim Bangladesh.
They forced their way into the office of owner Delwar
Hossain and locked him in when he said no money was available.
Police, relatives of the owners and the factory owners'
group, the BGMEA, launched talks with the protesters and a
police official said Hossain was released after bonuses were
paid to 900 workers late on Sunday.
"I see it as a positive movement as the workers were not
violent and were able to realise their demand peacefully," said
Amirul Haque Amin, president of the National Garment Workers'
Federation trade union.
An official of the BGMEA said bonuses totaling 5 million
taka ($64,000) were paid. Each worker was to receive a month's
wages, which can range up to the equivalent of $155 for an
S.M. Mannan, a BGMEA vice-president, said his group had
issued instructions to pay bonuses. "If any owner does blunder,
we cannot take responsibility for him," he told Reuters.
Workers have at times staged violent protests to seek an
increase in the minimum wage to $100, with demonstrations
shutting down more than 600 factories last month.
A series of accidents, including a building collapse in
April that killed more than 1,100 people, has raised global
concern over standards in Bangladesh's $22 billion garment
Garments are a vital sector for Bangladesh and its low wages
and duty-free access to Western markets have helped make it the
world's second-largest apparel exporter after China.
The recent accidents have put the government, industrialists
and the global brands that use the factories under pressure to
reform an industry that employs four million and generates 80
percent of Bangladesh's export earnings.
(Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by Ron Popeski)