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Workers Strike at Chittagong Port, Crippling Bangladesh Trade and Killing at Least Half a Dozen People

Image via Flickr by Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)

Bangladesh, a major manufacturing hub of the garment industry supplying much of Europe, Asia, and North America with clothing, has been hit by a nationwide dock workers strike. Apparently, the workers were promised wage increases, but the money never came. The worst of the strike is centralized at Chittagong Port. Workers are also complaining about security issues. As the workers left their posts and began demonstrations, at least 320 ships were left unloaded.

The strike is delaying the on time shipment of manufactured goods, and the Bangladesh garment manufacturing industry is concerned that customers will begin cancelling the orders for the goods, leaving the local manufcturers without their payment. Additionally, many incoming shipments of fabric and other raw materials for manufacturing are also delayed, meaning even more orders might be unfulfilled.

The authorities expect shortages of essential goods to occur all over Bangladesh due to the dock workers strike. The picketers have also become violent, killing at least six people, including a truck driver, in addition to vandalizing trucks and other equipment around the port area, including setting crude bombs. All this happened within the first two days of the strike.

Even if the strike only lasts for three days (60 hours), there will only be 12 working days in Bangladesh this month, due to other national holiday celebrations. This means very little work is getting done as ships search for other places to unload and the manufacturing industry is crippled by the halt of the shipping industry. Manufacturing accounts for about 24 percent of the country’s economy.

It is not yet clear when the strike could end. Authorities plannned a meeting for Monday, Oct. 28 to discuss measures to end the strike. The Bangladesh Army has been deloyed to help keep the situation under control until permanant measures to end the strike can be arranged.

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