War on Want protest over garment worker crackdown in Bangladesh

16 February 2017 - 10:00am
Press release

War on Want, Labour Behind the Label, Clean Clothes Campaign, Trade Unions Congress and affiliated unions will protest outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London  today (Thursday 16 February 2017) at 12:30pm. Location:  28 Queen's Gate, Kensington, London SW7 5JA

On 10 February another group of garment workers were arbitrarily arrested by Dhaka Police, bringing the total to 39. Garment workers are calling this a crisis.

The latest arrests represent an escalation of the Bangladeshi government's campaign of repression against the garment workers and their unions.

In December 2016, at least 20 factories went on strike after the authorities have instigated a widespread crackdown on workers and unions. More than 1,600 workers have been indiscriminately fired, police have filed cases against some 600 workers, and workers continue to be arrested with many union leaders forced into hiding.  

War on Want’s Senior Programmes Officer (Asia and the Pacific), Thulsi Narayanasamy, said:

"The Bangladeshi government's crackdown on garment workers and their unions is disgraceful. As long as garment workers are denied the fundamental right to organise in factories, the risk of another Rana Plaza disaster remains a very real possibility."

International garment brands from Zara to Gap and H&M have been found to be producing in the factories where the striking workers faced the crackdown.

Bangladeshi garment workers are paid $67 (approx. £54) a month, nowhere close to an amount they need to cover meals and rent let alone school or healthcare for themselves and their family. This wage hasn’t changed since 2013 and is only set to increase in 2018. Meanwhile, the cost of living in Dhaka has steadily increased with garment workers earning below the World Bank Poverty Line.

Security forces have raided the houses of trade union leaders and volunteers, and many have gone into hiding in fear of their safety. Trade union offices in Ashulia, the garment-producing hub of the capital Dhaka, have been raided, vandalised and forcibly shut down, with membership documents burned and furniture removed.

Notes to editors

For more information and interviews contact Ross Hemingway  +44 7983 550 728

Guardian: Bangladesh garment factories sack hundreds after pay protests

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