Dhaka - Bangladesh garment manufacturers said on Thursday they would reopen hundreds of factories in a manufacturing hub outside the capital, days after they shut the plants due to worker unrest following a deadly accident.
The manufacturers on Monday announced the shutdown of the factories in the Ashulia industrial area after two weeks of protests over the death of 1 127 garment workers in the country's worst industrial tragedy.
"We've decided to reopen the factories from Friday," Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said after meeting government and labour representatives.
The association, which represents the country's 4 500 garment factories, took the decision after the government assured it of the "highest security" for the plants, Azim said.
"We met the home and labour ministers and representatives from the workers today. They assured the highest security for our factories," he said.
There has been virtually no work at Ashulia, home to several hundred garment factories, since the collapse of a nine-storey garment factory complex near the hub that highlighted appalling safety conditions in the sector.
Most of Bangladesh's top garment factories, which make clothing for a string of major Western retailers including Walmart, H&M, Tesco, Inditex and Carrefour, are based at Ashulia.
Police said tens of thousands of workers joined the protests and dozens of factories and vehicles were vandalised.
Angry workers have also demanded a big rise in their minimum monthly wage, which was fixed at $38 in November 2010, but has not been reviewed since then, prompting Pope Francis to compare the pay to that of "slave labour".
The government last week set up a panel to raise the salaries of the country's three million garment workers and has approved changes in labour laws, making it easier for them to form unions.