Cablegate: Garment Workers Take to Streets
RR RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHHM RUEHJO RUEHMA
DE RUEHKA #6077 2750449
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020449Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1875
INFO RUCNCLC/CHILD LABOR COLLECTIVE
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1285
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 9353
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 7574
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 8699
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1519
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
UNCLAS DHAKA 006077
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ETRD PGOV BG
SUBJECT: GARMENT WORKERS TAKE TO STREETS
REF: DHAKA 4412
Sensitive but unclassified.
1. (SBU) On September 30, media reported that garment workers
from several factories ransacked police stations and damaged
50 vehicles to protest for better pay. Police responded with
rubber bullets and teargas, resulting in 50 police officers
injured along with several journalists.
2. (SBU) Labor activist Kalpona Akhter told laboff that
workers from Laxma Sweater might have started the unrest.
She said the labor wing of the Communist Party of Bangladesh,
Trade Union Center, has been trying to organize Laxma Sweater
over the past few months. During the past week, Laxma
management fired several workers including those attempting
to organize the factory. When workers asked management to
reset the work hours during Ramadan to permit workers to
leave at 4 PM, management refused. Workers walked out of the
factory, she said and shouted for surrounding factory workers
to join them.
3. (SBU) According to Akhter, workers from a neighboring
factory, Syntex Sweater Factory, responded. She said that
several Syntex workers had been beaten the day before by a
production manager and factory security forces when workers
complained about not receiving their pay on time. The Syntex
workers, who were working at their stations on September 30,
then left the factory in support of the calls from Laxma
workers, she said.
4. (SBU) Media reported that other factory workers from as
many as five neighboring factories joined in blocking the
roads from Dhaka northward. Police responded quickly and
restored order within several hours.
5. (SBU) Comment: Unresolved worker issues continue to leave
the ready made garment industry vulnerable to politically
motivated groups. Ahkter said that the Communist Party's
Trade Union Center was also attempting to organize Universal
Sweater Factory (reftel), which was widely seen as the
factory that sparked the labor unrest in May. This time,
effective police response quickly restored order, but the
underlying causes of worker discontent remain. End comment.