Justice for Shahidul Islam

Brands must take action after murder of Bangladeshi trade unionist

Shahidul Islam, a union leader in Bangladesh, was beaten to death on 25 June 2023. Shahidul Islam 

As a leader and organiser of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF) for 25 years, he fought for worker rights and died fighting for his beliefs.

He was attacked after leaving a meeting at the Prince Jacquard Sweaters Ltd factory to help the workers collect their due bonuses and wages, which the factory management refused to pay.

What needs to happen?

The murder investigation must continue and the perpetrators, including any higher-level management officials involved, brought to justice.

The brands whose products were made at this factory must take responsibility to ensure Shahidul's wife and children, who have lost their husband, father, and breadwinner, receive compensation. International standards prescribe that they should receive at least 24,934,830 Bangladeshi Taka (ca. 212k USD).

We have contacted all of the brands that sourced from this factory from a year before to a year after the murder to urge them to step up - but the result is depressing.

It is time for these brands to ensure Shahidul's family does not have to struggle to make ends meet. 

Shahidul Islam tracker

Let's have a look at who should contribute!

Who are the biggest buyers from Prince Jaquard Sweater? And who are the biggest brands, who could easily pay up?

BrandCountryAnnual revenue (self-reported)
Minimum value of goods bought from PJS June 2022 - March 2024Contributed?

RD style

United States/CanadaUS$ 31 million
US$ 1,129,213


New Yorker logo

GermanyUS$ 4.8 billion
US$ 600,314


Lager 157Sweden
US$ 181 million
US$ 499,569


ItalyUS$ 369 million
US$ 291,362


Ackermans logoSouth AfricaUS$ 4.8 billion
US$ 82,682


DK company

DenmarkUS$ 695 million
US$ 43,312


These are the brands which keep the Prince Jacquard Sweater factory going, because they put in most orders, as well as the richest brands, for whom paying the family what they need would be peanuts. These brands have failed to interact meaningfully with our letters for a year now. 

Beyond these brands, other buyers at the factory have been contacted and need to take responsibility. These include:

AM London Fashion, Ardene, Astermod (Verywear SAS Groupe), Australian Design Studio S.L., Brand Studio Lifestyle Private Ltd (Get Ketch), Calao, Essenza, Gocco, Holland House Fashion BV, Infiknit, Katag, Malwee Malhas Ltd., Mantra, Martes Moda, Mayoral International, Moodo Urban Fashion Mode-Szyszko, Pick n Pay, Pink Rose Clothing (Paper Cut Clothing LLC), Polinesia Sport, Redefined Fashion (Minus, Beyond Now, Desires, White and More, Peppercorn), Refrigiwear, Ruckfield S.A.S., Salling Group, Sanjeev 1979 LTD., Sports Group Denmark, Stormy Life, Suzy's Inc., Take Off S.P.A., Tessival, TFG, Villanova, VR46 Racing Apparel, Woman Within (Full Beauty), X-ray Jeans (N.E. Brands).

All these brands have failed to take meaningful action to prevent or remediate the wage theft that Shahidul Islam intervened to address, nor ensured that this factory respected freedom of association. None of them have provided any financial support for Shahidul’s family following his brutal murder, and they have also failed to demonstrate any concrete actions taken to protect workers’ freedom of association rights across their Bangladeshi suppliers to prevent similar incidents in the future. 


The murder of trade unionist Shahidul Islam is a stark reminder of the incredibly repressive environment in which our clothes are being produced in Bangladesh. Only five months after the murder, the announcement of a new minimum wage that amounted to barely half of what workers need, led to a wage of protests and intense repression. Four workers died, dozens were arrested, and thousands face legal charges. 

This is an exact repetition of the playbook of the country’s previous minimum wage review in 2018. Already in September 2023, Clean Clothes Campaign, therefore, demanded justice for Shahidul Islam and asked the Bangladeshi Government, factory owners, and brands sourcing from Bangladesh to support workers' demands and respect workers’ right to organise and protest during a Bangladesh garment industry trade fair in Amsterdam.

Ignoring these demands, brands refused to speak out for the workers’ demands, factory owners pushed for a minimum wage that met the low prices that brands are willing to pay, and the government unleashed repression when workers started protesting. For this cycle of poverty wages and repression to end, brands need to urgently change their purchasing practices. 

For actual change to happen in the industry, workers need to be able to organise to drive this change. Right now brands consider freedom of organisation as a tick-box exercise, where it is enough that an auditing company tells them there is no active obstruction. Human Rights Watch showed in a recent exposé that these audits are often bogus. Yet, several of the brands that sourced from the Prince Jacquard Sweater factory are still telling us that their audits ensured them all was fine. It wasn’t. Shahidul Islam was killed in front of the factory gates, over wages that workers were owed. Brands need to accept that their current approach isn’t working out and start taking freedom of association and workers’ rights to a decent wage seriously.

Shahidul memorial