Bangladeshi garment workers protest
Bangladeshi garment workers shout slogans during a protest demanding an increase in their wages at Mirpur in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Oct.31 Image Credit: AP

DHAKA - Bangladeshi garment manufacturers on Saturday shuttered 150 factories "indefinitely", as police issued blanket charges for 11,000 workers in connection with violent protests demanding a higher minimum wage, officers said.

Bangladesh's 3,500 garment factories account for around 85 per cent of its $55 billion in annual exports, supplying many of the world's top brands including Levi's, Zara and H&M.

Violent protests demanding better pay erupted last month, with at least three workers killed and more than 70 factories ransacked or damaged since, according to police.

A government-appointed panel raised the sector's wage by 56.25 percent on Tuesday to 12,500 taka, but garment workers have rejected the hike, instead demanding a 23,000 taka minimum wage.

On Thursday, 15,000 workers clashed with police on a key highway and ransacked Tusuka, a top plant, along with a dozen other factories.

"Police have filed cases against 11,000 unidentified people over the attack on Tusuka garment factory," police inspector Mosharraf Hossain told AFP.

Police officials told AFP that 150 factories had closed in the key industrial towns of Ashulia and Gazipur, both north of the capital Dhaka, as manufacturers feared further strikes when Bangladesh's working week began on Saturday.

"The manufacturers invoked Section 13/1 of the labour laws and shut 130 factories at Ashulia indefinitely citing illegal strikes," Sarwar Alam, head of police in the manufacturing hub, told AFP.