US-linked factories close amid Bangladesh wage protests; 100 workers hurt in clashes


DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Violent protests shuttered some 250 Bangladesh garment factories near the capital Dhaka on Wednesday, as thousands of workers demanded higher wages at the outlets providing cheap clothing for retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Striking workers clashed with police for a third successive day, causing about 100 injuries. Police retaliated by firing rubber bullets and canisters of tear gas.

"We have been forced to shut all garment factories in Ashulia fearing more vandalism, and also for security reasons after the unrest of the last few days," said Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

There are about 250 factories in the Ashulia industrial district, providing merchandise for most of the leading Western brands including Walmart, H&M, Gap Inc and Eagle Outfitters Inc, business officials said.

The factory workers are demanding the monthly minimum wage is raised to 8,000 taka ($103) from 3000 taka ($38).