Int’l group calls buyers to press for reinstating sacked workers

BDApparelNews Desk
14 May 2019  

File photo of workers passing under the nose of paramilitary forces during labour unrest in January

File photo of workers passing under the nose of paramilitary forces during labour unrest in January

An international group has urged buyers to press Bangladesh’s apparel manufacturers for reinstating 11,000 workers who were sacked in the fallout of labour unrest back in January this year.

This was one of the three point recommendation placed forward in an elaborate report titled ‘Banning hope: Bangladesh garment workers seeking a dollar an hour face mass firings, violence and false arrests' published by Workers Rights Consortium in April.

The group also urged apparel buyers from Bangladesh to compel manufacturers to withdraw all the lawsuits filed against workers after the unrest and pursue a non-discriminatory hiring policy in the factories affected during the labour unrest.

Earlier, back during December 2018 and January 2019, Bangladesh witnessed what was the biggest labour unrest of recent times – sprouting from the implementation of the new wage structure for apparel workers.

There were reports that over 11,000 workers were sacked in the fallout to and many others sued or subjected to police action. At least one worker was killed in confrontation between the apparel workers and police.

Bangladesh government and the apparel manufacturers have responded to the wage protests by collectively punishing the workers in a manner vastly out of proportion, Workers' Rights Consortium said in their report.

The report sharply criticised Bangladesh government and apparel manufacturers for blatantly ignoring workers' rights.

“The government and factory owners appear increasingly to operate with a sense of impunity, a belief that they can indiscriminately fire, physically attack, and otherwise victimize workers for exercising rights protected by Bangladeshi law,” it said.

“The government and  the manufacturers  appear  impervious  to concern about workers’ human rights,” it added, also touching upon the ongoing issue of the tug war between state and Bangladesh Accord over the latter's extension.

The report concluded on a note expecting apparel buyers to respond to such practices and ignorance to workers' rights.