Bangladesh says it has alerted intelligence agencies that militants might try to destabilize the country's vital garment industry.
Junior Home Minister Tanjim Ahmed Sohel Taj says the government will take strong action if any group tries to hurt the $12 billion industry. His warning Wednesday follows an appeal from industry leaders for help preventing labor unrest at their factories. Manufacturers submitted a request to the Home Ministry this week, asking for a new industrial police force to tackle problems at factories.
They say the garment industry is already threatened by the global economic recession, and that militants or non-governmental organizations could further destabilize it.Bangladesh is investigating militant ties to a recent uprising by border guards. But the reports of a militant threat to the garment industry have not been independently verified.
Industrial officials have called for increased security in the past, when workers demonstrated for higher wages.Human rights groups say the government has a history of abusing garment workers' rights, and that labor activists complain of harassment and threats.Garments are the central engine of the Bangladesh economy, generating 76 percent of the country's total export earnings.