Workers of a garment factory in Gazipur staged a protest, blocked roads and vandalised cars on Saturday demanding payment of advance salary and Eid bonus, an extension of Eid holidays and reopening of closed factories.
The police fired guns, sound grenades and tear gas to bring the situation under control.
The clash between police and protesters in several phases has left at least seven industrial policemen injured including an assistant superintendent of police (ASP).
Islam Hossain, an inspector at Gazipur Industrial Police, and some workers said that for the last few days, the workers of Viyellatex in the Sataish area of Gazipur City have been demanding Eid bonus, annual holiday money and full month's salary for July by July 26.
The workers did not accept the 15-day salary and 3-day leave on the occasion of Eid announced by the government. Police said that the workers started making these demands unreasonably, instigated by a vested quarter.
The workers went on strike at the factory last Thursday demanding these things. Amid the workers' protests, the factory announced an Eid holiday of eight days (July 31 to August 7), Eid bonuses and 15 days of pay for the current month on July 30, according to the police.
However, the workers started protesting by rejecting the announcement. They humiliated several officers and vandalised their offices. At one stage they blocked the adjoining Dhaka-Mymensingh highway. Police went to the spot and took control of the situation. The factory later declared a holiday in the wake of the labour unrest.
Siddiqur Rahman, the superintendent of police of Gazipur Industrial Police, said the workers started gathering at the factory at around 7:30 am on Saturday. They got violent when they saw the gate locked and started protesting.
At one stage, they blocked the adjacent Dhaka-Mymensingh highway. This caused a long traffic jam on both sides of the highway.
During this time, the agitated workers vandalised several vehicles.
When the police went to the spot and tried to remove the protesters from the highway they started throwing bricks and stones at the police.
At least seven policemen, including Tongi Zone ASP Shamsul Alam and Inspector Rezzakul Haider, were injured.
Several workers, who did not want to be named, said police also attacked the protesting workers without provocation. At least 12 workers and pedestrians were injured.
Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal, head of the human resources department at Viyellatex, said some unruly workers surrounded the factory office and tried to use force to enforce the demands unconstitutionally, beating officials, vandalising, cutting off the power supply and obstructing factory operations. For these reasons, the factory has been declared closed indefinitely in the interest of safety.