Bangladeshi garment workers returned to their factories Thursday, where they stitch clothes for Western retailers, after the prime minister demanded an end to days of protests over a new minimum wage.
“All the plants have reopened today and the workers have joined duty,” said Reaz-Bin-Mahmood, a vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, which presents 4,500 factories.
“We hope the worst part is over, but now we have to make up for lost time,” Mahmood said.
Thousands of workers have taken to the streets in deadly protests over the new minimum monthly wage of $68 — a 76 percent hike but still lower than those in many other major garment-producing nations.
Several hundred factories, including some of the biggest, have been forced to close since the protests started on November 11, crippling the sector, a mainstay of the nation’s economy.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called on the workers to abandon the protests on Wednesday which she branded unjustified as police launched a crackdown, arresting five garment union leaders.
While pro-government unions and manufacturers have accepted the new figure, left-leaning groups are demanding a $100 wage, saying the amount is the minimum needed to maintain a decent life.
The protests in Gazipur and neighbouring industrial hubs of Ashulia and Savar have left two people dead after clashes with police.
Badrul Alam, police chief of Ashulia, told AFP that no violence was reported on Thursday.
Protests against poor pay and conditions have gathered momentum since the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in April on the outskirts of Dhaka that killed 1,135 people.