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In an apparent bid to quell labor unrest, the Bangladeshi government raised the pay of millions of garment workers Sunday after coming under fire from laborers over disparity in their new wage structure.

State Minister for Labor and Employment Munnujan Sufian made the announcement Sunday night, saying wages for workers of all grades were raised proportionately following a special directive of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in this regard.In line with the new wage structure, grade-i workers will get the minimum monthly basic wage 18,257 taka, 15,416 taka for grade-II, 9,849 taka for grade-III, 9,347 taka for grade-IV and 8,875 for grade-V.The ministry, however, expressed the hope that the agitating workers will now return to their workplaces.The wage hike came hours after the Bangladesh apparel garment owners threatened to shut down thousands of factories if the workers continue demonstration.

The warning came following week-long protests by the workers in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, leaving at least a laborer reportedly dead and scores of others injured.Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Siddiqur Rahman said factories across Bangladesh will be kept shut for an indefinite period from Monday if the workers do not return to their work stations.Tens of thousands garment workers have been staging demonstration since last Sunday.They alleged that the minimum monthly basic wage in grade-v had been increased by 51 percent to 8,000 taka from 5,300 taka with effect from December last year but in other grades pay hikes were not reflected proportionately.Like previous days, workers at key apparel hub Ashulia, on the outskirts of Dhaka, took to streets Sunday and clashed with the police.

At least 10 people were reportedly injured when police charged batons and used water cannons to disperse the unruly protesters from the streets.On Saturday, workers ransacked nearly a dozen factories in protests.Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Hasina on Sunday asked the relevant authorities to end the impasse and provide all the workers a proportionate salary increase.A tripartite committee with representatives from the government, union leaders and factory owners was formed to resolve the unrest.Bangladesh’s about 31-billion-U.S.-dollar apparel export sector comprises some 5,000 factories employing more than four million workers, 80 percent of whom are women. (1 U.S. dollar equals to about 84 taka).

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