Three killed in clashes over pay

Up to three people were killed and 100 injured when garment workers demanding the implementation of a new minimum wage fought police at an industrial zone in south-eastern Bangladesh yesterday.

Police official Reza Al Hasan said authorities opened fire and used tear gas after thousands of workers attacked factories and smashed vehicles at the Chittagong export processing zone. The zone houses about 70 foreign companies that make garments, shoes and bicycles, and employ about 150,000 workers.

Mr Hasan said one worker died, but would not say how. The United News of Bangladesh news agency said three people were killed by gunfire, but police would not confirm the figure.

Officials said yesterday's clashes involved a South Korean company, YoungOne, which suspended work at its 13 garment factories on Saturday after workers attacked the facilities.

They said the workers were demanding the implementation of a new wage structure announced by the Bangladesh government in July.

Kihak Sung, chairman of Young- One, claimed outside agitators and not local workers were responsible for attacking the factories.

He said there was no problem with workers regarding wages, and that his company usually paid more than other companies.

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