News from 2017
Major developments in Bangladesh labour crackdown - Important first step taken however crisis not resolved
After months of intense efforts by labour unions, and labour and human rights organisations, all over the world, yesterday, Bangladesh trade unionists, the government and the employers’ organisation announced the planned release of all remaining detained labour leaders. Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum and the Worker Rights Consortium welcome the announcement as an important first step, but warn that in its current form it still falls short of fully resolving the crisis in Bangladesh.
Five leading apparel companies -- H&M, Inditex (Zara), C&A, Next and Tchibo -- have pulled out as key speakers and participants from the Dhaka Apparel Summit, organized by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). Their decision to withdraw is a response to the campaign calling to an end of the of repression against the labor movement carried out by the Bangladesh government and factory owners over the last two months. These companies represent billions of dollars in annual garment purchases for Bangladeshi manufacturers.
Protests will be held at Bangladesh Embassies across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia this week, in order to demand an end to the biggest crackdowns on workers’ rights ever seen in the country’s garment industry. As part of the #EveryDayCounts campaign, activists from the Clean Clothes Campaign will join with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), UNI Global Union and IndustriALL Global Union to call for an immediate end to the persecution of garment workers, trade union leaders and worker activists in Bangladesh.
International support and solidarity can make a real difference in local worker struggles shows this week’s success in Sri Lanka. In a workers’ referendum in two factories with a long history of conflict between employers and management, workers voted to have the trade union recognized as legitimate bargaining partner. In the face of years of intense union busting, this testifies to the empowering nature of international solidarity, called in by the trade union.
Twenty-two human and labour rights organizations from around the world are calling on H&M, C&A, Inditex, Gap and VF to press for the release of unjustly imprisoned Bangladeshi union leaders and worker rights advocates and the reinstatement of 1,500 workers suspended or terminated for taking part in a wage strike. Sign the petition!
Since last month's wage protests began in Dhaka, Bangladesh thousands of workers along with several grass-roots worker organizations located in the region faced a series of repressive actions from their employers and the government. An estimated 2 - 3000 workers were fired, while numerous legal cases filed at the Ashulia police station accuse at least 1,500 unnamed workers and 150 named workers of vandalism, looting, threatening other workers, and assaulting factory officials. At least 13 union leaders and activists, many of whom had no association with the protests, were detained or arrested. As of January 4, 2017, at least 11 remain in police custody.