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Bangladesh workers vent after disaster

29 April 2013, 13:00

Dhaka - Thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers walked out of their factories on Monday, demanding the death penalty for the owner of a tower block that collapsed and killed at least 381 of their colleagues.

Managers at all of the country's 4 500 garment factories had given workers an unscheduled two days holiday over the weekend in the hope that anger over last Wednesday's disaster at the Rana Plaza would subside.

But police and unions said there was a mass walk-out in the Ashulia industrial zone on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka soon after the reopening on Monday morning and workers then began a protest march through the area.

Local police chief Badrul Alam put the number of protestors at more than 15 000 while a local television network, Private Independent, reported that a number of vehicles had been torched, including an ambulance.

Police responded with rubber bullets and tear gas to bring the unrest under control.

"They blockaded roads and were chanting 'Hang Rana'," Alam told AFP, referring to Sohel Rana, the owner of the collapsed compound, who was arrested on Sunday.

Witnesses have said workers reported seeing cracks within the building on Tuesday night, but they were ordered to return to their workstations after engineers had given the structure the all-clear.

The accident has again highlighted safety problems and poor working conditions that plague the textile industry in Bangladesh, the world's second-biggest clothing exporter.

Last November a blaze at a factory making clothing for Walmart and other Western labels in Dhaka left 111 people dead, with survivors describing how fire exits were kept locked by site managers.


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