Many of Bangladesh’s 3.5 million apparel workers—80 percent of whom are women—left their shops and took to the streets in August to demand that the minimum wage increase to $72 per month.
Here is one scene, as reported by the New York Times [ht: sm]:
The air thickened with tear gas as police and paramilitary officers jogged into the Ishwardi Export Processing Zone firing rubber bullets and swinging cane poles. Panicked factory workers tried to flee. A seamstress crumpled to the ground, knocked unconscious by a shot in the head.
Dozens of people were bloodied and hospitalized. The officers were cracking down on protests at two garment factories inside this industrial area in western Bangladesh. But they were also protecting two ingredients of a manufacturing formula that has quietly made Bangladesh a leading apparel exporter to the United States and Europe: cheap labor and foreign investment.
Following huge protests in 2010, the government raised the minimum wage for garment workers from about $20 a month to $37, which is still the lowest among the major exporters of garments to the United States.