Bangladesh: Situation deterioriating as government cracks down on labour
Trade union offices ransacked and vandalised, leaders arrested and imprisoned, workers and organizers in hiding for fear of retribution – this is the face of Bangladesh’s punitive crackdown on labour. The situation is deterioriating further – 9 trade union members were arrested over the weekend in Chittagong. They have since been released, but the charges have not been dropped.
UNI and IndustriALL, along with the international labour movement, joined together to condemn the suppression of organized labour in Bangladesh. Since December, over 35 trade unionist leaders, organisers and workers have been arrested and detained for taking part in protests.
“We are fighting back to gain the release of the jailed workers and insist that basic trade union rights in Bangladesh are respected,” said Philip Jennings, general secretary of UNI Global Union. “The government is acting unfairly and arrogantly. This repression is ultimately damaging to their number one export earner.”
IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, said:
“We demand the government stops this shameful repression of trade unionists in Bangladesh. The government must drop the charges and release all those that are still detained. By continuously flouting international laws on trade union and worker rights, it is seriously risking its most precious asset – the garment industry.”
UNI are coordinating a campaign together with IndustriALL and ITUC to defend trade unionists and end the repression of trade unions in Bangladesh.
There are multiple ways you can participate:
- Hold an action at a Bangladesh embassy or consulate in your country. Make sure to send pictures or video of the action to firstname.lastname@example.org
- In New York, Washington, Berlin, Toronto, Paris, Madrid, Geneva, Amsterdam, London, Copenhagen and Brussels, efforts to organise embassy visits are already underway, if you are interested in participating or organising a visit in your city, please contact our Digital Content Officer (email@example.com) who can help to connect you with other interested unions in the area.
- Either deliver the attached protest letter to the Bangladeshi embassy or send it directly to the Bangladeshi government (in English only). Put it on your union’s letterhead, insert your union’s name in the first sentence, add a signature and send it to the email addresses listed at the top of the letter.
- Send the attached letter to your government asking it to demand the Bangladesh government free the jailed trade unionists and respect workers’ rights.
- Take photos with the attached solidarity sign and post them online with hashtag #EveryDayCounts and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
IndustriALL and Uni have been at the forefront of improving worker rights and safety in the garment industry in Bangladesh, following the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed more than 1,100 garment workers. They were the drivers of the Bangladesh Accord, a legally-binding agreement signed by more than 200 global brands, to inspect 1,600 garment factories for fire and safety hazards. More than 74% of identified safety issues in the 1,600 factories have been reported and verified as fixed.