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Issue #1765      February 15, 2017

Bangladesh

Striking workers jailed

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has condemned the imprisonment by the Bangladesh authorities of at least 26 garment workers, including several union representatives, for participating in strike action in favour of a living minimum wage.

Nearly four years have passed since the collapse of the Rana Plaza building.

Trade union offices in Ashulia, the garment-producing hub of the capital Dhaka, have been invaded, vandalised and forcibly shut down, with membership documents burned and furniture removed. More than 1,600 workers have been fired and police have filed cases against 600 workers and trade union leaders.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “Bangladesh has an appalling record of abuse and violations of fundamental workers’ rights and this latest round of repression against impoverished garment workers, who are simply asking for a wage that provides enough for them and their families to live on, is a disgrace. The government’s long-standing anti-union stance leaves workers living from hand to mouth, and deprives them of the means to demand safe working conditions. We demand that these workers be released, and that the government live up to its obligations to respect fundamental labour rights.

“Garment workers in Bangladesh have the unequivocal right to organize and must be paid a living wage on which they can survive.”

Nearly four years have passed since the collapse of the Rana Plaza building. Though considerable progress has been made in the area of fire and building safety, primarily through the Accord, the Government of Bangladesh has done tragically little to guarantee the respect for the rule of law, including labour law and international labour standards.

The European Union and others which have special trading arrangements with Bangladesh must use their leverage to support decent wages and working conditions in the supply chains that serve consumers in their countries. Global brands doing business with Bangladeshi suppliers must also accept their share of responsibilities.

Global Unions Federations IndustriALL and UNI have launched an international petition in support of the imprisoned workers – #EveryDayCounts.

For more information, see: www.industriall-union.org

Next article – Ukraine: No military solution

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