Scores of factories at Bangladesh textile hub shut amid unrest
Hundreds of factories which form the hub of Bangladesh's garment industry are to close indefinitely after worker unrest sparked by the death of more than 1,100 colleagues, employees announced yesterday.
As the search for bodies from last month's collapse of a factory complex wrapped up, the textile industry's main trade body said all operations at the nearby Ashulia industrial zone were being suspended until further notice.
Shahidullah Azim, of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said that the decision to shut down all the factories at Ashulia, on the outskirts of Dhaka, was made "to ensure the security of our factories".
Local police chief Badrul Alam said workers in 80 per cent of the factories had walked out earlier in the day to demand an increase in salaries as well as the execution of the owner of the collapsed Rana Plaza complex in the town of Savar.
Most of Bangladesh's top garment factories are based at Ashulia and there has been "virtually no work" there since the April 24 Rana Plaza tragedy, Azim said.
Ashulia is home to around 500 factories which make clothing for a string of major Western retailers including Walmart, H&M, Tesco and Carrefour.
News of the indefinite closure represents yet another body blow to the industry which has pleaded with Western retailers not to pull out of Bangladesh and promised to come up with a credible safety framework.
The collapse of the nine-storey Rana Plaza building, which housed five separate garment factories, was the worst industrial disaster in Bangladeshi history and the latest in a long line of deadly tragedies to blight the textile industry.
Last November, a fire at a garment factory in Dhaka killed 111 workers, and a blaze at another plant killed eight people last week.
Bangladesh's army announced yesterday that it was wrapping up its search for bodies at Savar, saying it now believed a total of 1,127 people were killed.