Bangladesh’s Garment Workers Protest over Wage

November 30, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. chaotic [key-OT-ik] (adj.) – totally disordered and out of control
Example: The streets are chaotic due to ongoing protests.

2. hurl [hurl] (v.) – to violently throw something
Example: The angry protesters hurled stones at the government-owned buildings.

3. disperse [dih-SPURS] (v.) – to scatter or spread, especially a crowd
Example: The police dispersed the student protesters by hosing water at them.

4. meet one’s needs [meet wuhns needs] (idiom) – to have enough money in order to buy necessities like food, clothing, etc.
Example: The workers fight for a salary increase because their present salary could not meet their needs.

5. flourishing [FLUR-i-shing, FLUHR-] (adj.) – doing very well, especially in a business
Example: The flourishing textile businesses are dependent on the increasing demand for clothing.


Read the text below.
The streets of Dhaka have recently been chaotic because of protests from thousands of garment factory workers.

In the streets of the Ashulia industrial district, angry protesters attacked the owners of garment factories and hurled stones at them. Within only two days, about 200 factories closed down and at least 50 people got hurt. In order to disperse the multitude of protesters, the responding riot police had to use tear gas shells and rubber bullets.

The workers’ demand for wage increase brought about these recent protests. Presently, garment factory workers receive a minimum pay of 38 dollars per month. A panel appointed by the government, the Minimum Wage Board, has recommended a 75% hike, which would raise the monthly salary to $66.

However, the workers of the garment industry were unwilling to accept the proposal and are now pushing for a salary hike of 100 dollars a month. One of them said that $66 could hardly meet their needs because of the high prices of goods in the market.

The salary paid to workers in Bangladesh is just half of what is paid in Vietnam. This low wage is instrumental to the flourishing ready-to-wear industry. Today, Bangladesh’s garment industry is the second largest in the world, next to China.

The wage hike would significantly increase the production cost; hence, the industry has not endorsed the government’s recommendation yet. Its big fear is that a salary hike would cause the industry’s competitive edge to be lost.    

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think it is proper for the factory workers to demand for a salary hike? Why or why not?
·         What do you think the government should do to help the struggling factory workers? Please explain briefly.

Discussion B

·         How do you think people can have enough money for their own needs?
·         What can the government do to help people who have little to no access to basic needs? Please explain.


November 30, 2013