Protests for apparel workers at Bangladesh’s embassies in US, UK

BDApparelNews Desk
31 January 2019  

Photo from the protests outside Bangladesh`s embassy in Washington DC. Photo Courtesy: Twitter/Labor Rights Forum

Photo from the protests outside Bangladesh`s embassy in Washington DC. Photo Courtesy: Twitter/Labor Rights Forum

Protesters demonstrated in support of Bangladesh’s apparel industry workers and the Accord across Bangladesh’s embassies in the United States, United Kingdom and Netherlands.

Tweet feed under #WeStandWithGarmentWorkers shows, protesters wielded placards demanding “stop to harassment” of Bangladesh’s apparel industry workers and arrests near the embassies in Washington DC, The Hague and London.

Activists are out in front of the Embassy of #Bangladesh in DC in solidarity with Bangladeshi garment workers #WeStandWithGarmentWorkers #FreedomSafetyLivingWage Take action here: https://t.co/KHRsFPA9yA @cleanclothes pic.twitter.com/70Ub9vegX6

— Labor Rights Forum (@ILRF) January 29, 2019

Protesters are calling it “a week of global solidarity” for “an end to the violent repression faced by workers protesting for decent wages in Bangladesh”.

Several international rights groups including Clean Clothes Campaign, Labour Behind the Label, Labor Rights Forum, and Fashion Revolution USA have expressed solidarity with the protests and are demanding the same.

Demonstrations and delivery of letters of concern will take place in at Bangladeshi embassies and consulates in more cities including Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, Madrid, New York, Clean Clothes Campaign said in a statement.

Yesterday there were demonstrations in front of Bangladeshi embassies in Washington DC and the Hague. Today demonstrations in London and Berlin will follow. #WeStandWithGarmentWorkers in #Bangladesh #FreedomSafetyLivingWage. Show your support online here: https://t.co/T2wmIvzUW8 pic.twitter.com/GBAlHsrg1N

— Clean Clothes (@cleanclothes) January 30, 2019

The protesters are also calling for continuation of Bangladesh Accord, the compliance monitoring agency of European buyers and retailers who is hanging in the court waiting on whether it’s term will be extended or not.

WHAT HAPPENED IN BANGLADESH?

Since the implementation of the new wage structure from December 2018, Bangladesh’s apparel industry workers rolled out on to the streets alleging it was a discriminatory pay structure and demanded for a comparative raise.

The protests took the shape of the biggest labour unrest of Bangladesh in recent times – lasting for about a month and half and killing one worker. In the course, the workers were subjected to suppression from the industrial police.

Going on right now: the demonstration in front of the #Bangladesh embassy in The Hague in solidarity with garment workers in Bangladesh. #WeStandWithGarmentWorkers #FreedomSafetyLivingWage pic.twitter.com/Va6gh5EETe

— Clean Clothes (@cleanclothes) January 29, 2019

In face of protests, the government was compelled to offer a second raise for the workers and managed to quell protests subsequently. This move came much to the disliking of the factory owners in Bangladesh who vowed to punish “troublemakers”.

What came after the protests subsided mid-January was shocking. About 5,000 apparel industry workers were sacked and 45 arrested for troublemaking. Right now, there is still fear prevailing among the workers in the industrial zones.

THE ACCORD ISSUE

Accord, the compliance monitoring agency that was set up in Bangladesh following major industrial disasters Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire, completed its five-year term on November 30, 2018. It now seeks an extension.

Under the supervision of Accord and Alliance over the past five years, Bangladesh’s apparel industry saw a massive structural overhauling which has catapulted the country into having one of the most compliant line of factories around the world.

However, the government is reluctant to let it stay any longer – triggering the court fight that started since November and is persisting until now.

Bangladesh’s manufacturers complain, that such expensive remediation work has not benefitted them in terms of securing fair pricing of apparel items. And now, after “being roped” into such expenses, they will be happy to see the back of Accord.