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Act against firm owner: Sheikh Hasina

world Updated: Nov 01, 2009 14:48 IST

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ordered action against a garment factory owner who locked out without paying wages to workers. The incident led to violence in which two people died and over 200 were injured.

The employers' body, however, called Saturday's industrial violence a "sabotage by local agents of foreign elements".

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) alleged initial news reports about four people, including two policemen, being killed, as indicator of ?sabotage' meant to push the country out of the global garment market, New Age newspaper said Sunday.

Hasina directed the home secretary to take action against the employer of the Nippon Garments Factory at Ershadnagar in the industrial suburb of Tongi for abruptly laying off workers, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha said.

The employer had acted without making payments of arrears and salaries for three months, leading to the violent incident, officials said.

BGMEA defended the Nippon Garment owner.

"We are sensing an act of sabotage behind the destruction and lawlessness," said BGMEA president Abdus Salam Murshedy.

Lawmakers Tipu Munshi, a former president of the association, and Israfil Ahmed made similar observations.

Ahmed urged the government to remain cautious against ?local agents of foreign elements' who might have been working to create unrest in Bangladesh's garment industry.

Due to global market recession, many foreign elements are in a frantic move to grab Bangladesh's share in the global apparel market, he said without elaborating.

Industrial violence due to non-payment of wages and festival bonus and poor working conditions is a recurring phenomenon in privately-owned readymade garments and knitwear industries sector which is Bangladesh's highest foreign exchange earners.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other bodies have censured the industries in the past for bad industrial relations and not honouring agreements reached with workers' bodies.