5 – No guarantee of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Bangladesh

The ITUC affiliates in Bangladesh are the Bangladesh Free Trade Union Congress (BFTUC), the Bangladesh Jatyatabadi Sramik Dal (BJSD), the Bangladesh Labour Federation (BLF), the Bangladesh Mukto Sramik Federation (BMSF), the Bangladesh Sanjukta Sramik Federation (BSSF) and the Jatio Sramik League (JSL).

On 24 April 2013, at least 1,129 workers were killed when the eight-story Rana Plaza building complex in the Dhaka suburb of Savar collapsed. The complex housed five garment factories employing as many as 5,000 workers. This includes the New Wave factory, which supplies clothes to major global retailers such as Mango, Primark and Canadian supermarket chain Loblaws. Ether Tex Ltd, which supplies garments for buyers such as Walmart and C&A, was also housed in the complex, as was Phantom TAC, a joint venture knit factory with a Spanish textile company which boasted on its website of its “unique Social Transparency Tag” assuring the “high standards of working conditions in the factory”. The building also housed a bank and several shops. At the time of the collapse, 2,000 people were said to have been on the upper floors of the building.

On 24 November 2012, a fire erupted at the Tazreen Fashions Ltd factory, which claimed the lives of over 100 workers. This fire follows the recent garment factory fires in Lahore and Karachi, Pakistan, in September which claimed over 300 lives. The cause of the recent fires is suspected to be faulty wiring, often caused by using cheap and un-insulated wiring which overheats and causes these catastrophes. To keep costs as low as possible (and profits as high), Bangladeshi garment factories often cut major corners on health and safety.

The anti-union stance of the industry as a whole has also foreclosed any opportunity to resolve critical industrial relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
issues such as health and safety through dialogue and collective negotiation. Instead, the industry, with the support of the government, is fighting to keep the industry union free – promoting participation committees, which have no power to bargain over the terms and conditions of their employment, and which are frequently dominated by management’s hand-picked representatives from among the workers, in place of unions.

Currently, there is an ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
-led process under way to reform the Labour Act of 2006 in relation to a handful of priority issues. The proposals include amendments on the minimum membership requirement of 30 per cent, the disclosure of names of union founders to the employer, and setting the number of union officers who may not be employed in the enterprise. Comments have been submitted by employers and workers to the Ministry of Labour, following numerous tripartite dialogue sessions facilitated by the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
. Furthermore, as the Parliament is dominated by garment factory owners, there is further concern that even if the proposals were acceptable, the Parliament could nevertheless amend them to suit the interests of the garment industry.

In practice

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Seven demonstrators injured while asking for the truth about the recent death of among many deaths in the Bangladeshi shipbreaking industry01-04-2016

On 1 April 2016, seven people, including a 16-year-old boy, were injured by the guards who opened fire on demonstrators. They were protesting against the death of the worker Mohammad Sumon, which occurred in a Bangladeshi shipbreaking company named Kabir Steel. The man was killed instantly when a truck transporting scrap steel from the Kabir Steel yard in Chittagong ran over him in the morning on 28 March 2016. Factory authorities at Kabir Steel took the body inside and refused to hand it over to his relatives. In response to this unacceptable act, Sumon’s family and co-workers started to protest blocking the Dhaka Chittagong highway in front of the factory for about two hours demanding the punishment of those responsible. The factory guards, acting under orders of Kabir Steel, opened fire on the demonstrators, injuring seven people identified as Nurun Nabi (20), Delwar (24), Usman (25), Munna (20), Musammat Shahnaz (25), Shabuddin (18) and Samir Ahad (16).
Mohammad Sumon was only one of the many Bangladeshi workers who lost their lives at the workplace from the beginning of 2016. All the workers were employed in the shipbreaking industry: on 20 January Akkas Mian (42) died as an iron plate fell on him during the dismantling of a ship at Asad Ship-breaking Yard at Madam Bibir Hat of Sitakunda Upazila; on 3 March Mohammad Shafiqul Islam Shikder (34) died while removing air conditioning from a ship in the OWW ship yard owned by Mahsin Badsha; and on 15 March Mohammad Morselin (20) died in hospital after falling from a ship while working at the SL Ship Breaking Yard in Kumira on 12 March.

Nurses charged by police30-03-2016

On 30 March a group of nurses protested in central Dhaka. The Joint Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Krishnapada Roy, requested the nurses to free the street. As they refused – in order to continue their legitimate gathering – the police charged using batons, water cannons and lobbed teargas canisters to disperse them.

They were demanding the Government to meet the promised criteria of selection for the appointment of new nurses under the Public Service Commission (PSC). Some 10,000 new nurses were supposed to be selected using a seniority-base criteria. Nevertheless, the PSC circular dated 28th of March invited open applications from anyone without taking into account seniority as a preferential parameter of selection, thus failing to stand by its previous announcements.

Multinational energy giant Chevron has fired workers by text message in order to intimidate them and discourage union organising16-03-2016

On 16 March 2016 IndustriALL reiterated its complaints against Chevron-Bangladesh, after being ignored for more than one year. Last year, in fact, IndustriALL wrote asking for the interruption of the campaign of bullying, intimidation and harassment against workers taking place in the Bangladeshi branch of the multinational company that ever since did not seem to stop.

Chevron sacks union organisers 31-05-2015

In May 2015 US-based oil and gas giant Chevron responded to its workers’ decision to create a union by sacking the organisers.

Chevron Bangladesh employed 463 workers but only 37 of them had permanent contracts, with the rest remaining on rolling temporary contracts, in some cases for 20 years. This is against the Bangladeshi labour law that limits temporary employment to three months. The management ignored repeated verbal and written requests from the workers over many years, calling for changes to their unacceptable conditions of employment. After years of intimidation, the workers decided to form a workplace union, following the legal process. The new Chevron workers’ union filed for official registration with the labour authorities on 14 April 2015. Out of the workforce of 463, 218 workers joined. On 20 May 75 employees filed cases at the Labour Court claiming their right permanent employment status
.
Management reacted to the workers’ union registration aggressively. On 26 May management mobilised police and security forces to blockade the union office. Workers defied the police and demonstrated in front of the office. The following day, 27 May 2015, Chevron dismissed 17 workers, posting a list of their names outside its office. The list included all the newly elected leaders of the new union, notably president Saiful Islam, Kamaluddin, General Secretary, and Hasanur Rahman Manik, Organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. Secretary.

In response to demands by the Bangladesh Chemical, Energy and Allied Workers’ Federation (BCEAWF) to reinstate the workers, make their jobs permanent and allow them to form a trade union, Chevron argued that they were not responsible for the workers’ mistreatment, saying a third party labour broker was their employer.

Union busting and police violence against garment workers26-07-2015

Ten workers from Green Life Clothing Ltd, a garment factory at Zamgora in the Ashulia export processing zone export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. to the north of Dhaka, were injured on 26 July 2015 when police baton-charged a group of workers who were demonstrating to demand the reopening of the factory. The factory had been closed indefinitely in order to move some of the production units to another factory owned by the firm. Workers believed the owner temporarily closed the factory to break up the union.

Mobile phone company union denied recognition05-04-2016

Employees at Grameenphone, owned by Norwegian company Telenor, have spent over two years struggling for the recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. of their union. The Grameenphone Employees Union was formed in June 2012 after over 200 employees lost their jobs. The government has repeatedly turned down their application for registration over technicalities. After prolonged court proceedings, the Labour Appellate court ordered the Director of Labour to register the union. The government refused to issue formal recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. of the union and the company filed a writ with the High Court, to stay the decision of the appellate court, which was granted. The government then issued new rules broadening the definition of “supervisory officer” to render workers with any supervisory function ineligible to join union. Furthermore, the new rules would declare mobile phones an essential public service, which would enable the government to intervene to limit or ban strikes and demonstrations.

40 workers hurt in clash with police 31-05-2015

At least 40 workers from an Otobi furniture factory were injured during a clash with police on the outskirts of the capital on 5 May 2015. The workers were demonstrating in front of their factory to demand the payment of two months’ salary arrears. Repeated calls for payment had been in vain. As the workers grew more agitated, reportedly throwing projectiles, the police responded with force, firing rubber bullets and releasing tear gas canister. At least 40 of the workers required treatment at local hospitals.

No justice for murdered union leader three years after death05-04-2015

Three years after the torture and murder of garment worker union leader Aminul Islam, his killers have not been brought to justice. Aminul, 39, disappeared on 4 April 2012, and his body was found a few days later with signs of torture. He was a plant-level union leader at an export processing zone export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. in Bangladesh, an organiser for the Bangladesh Centre for Workers’ Solidarity (BCWS), and president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation’s (BGIWF) local committee in the Savar and Ashulia areas of Dhaka. He had sought to improve the working conditions of some 8,000 garment workers employed by Shanta Group, a garment manufacturer based in Dhaka.

Despite an international outcry, including a U.S. congressional hearing, little seems to have been done to bring his murderers to justice. When the United States revoked preferential trade benefits for Bangladesh in 2013, citing human and labour rights abuses, the Bangladesh government dropped criminal charges against two garment worker leaders who worked with him, and announced it would step up the search for the people responsible for his torture and murder. In fact, the government dropped an investigation against a suspect and has taken no further steps to resolve the case.

Suspicions surround his death. His wife said Aminul did not dare speak over the phone because he feared it was tapped, and he would receive arbitrary phone calls from the intelligence services, even in the middle of the night.

Workers dismissed after striking over safety concerns31-05-2015

Two workers were dismissed on 1 May 2015 after employees of NRN Knitting and Garments Ltd and Natural Sweater Village Ltd-2 took part in a protest to demand that the authorities examine the building their factories were located in to check that it was safe following an earthquake. After the first two dismissals, the Garment Workers Trade Union Centre trade union centre A central organisation at the national, regional or district level consisting of affiliated trade unions. Often denotes a national federation or confederation. organised further protests on 2 May to demand the reinstatement of their colleagues. Management responded by dismissing another 27 workers on 3 May and closing the factory, claiming a shortage of orders.

Union leaders attacked and dismissed for raising safety concerns31-12-2015

On 2 April 2015 management at the D&D garment factory ordered anti-union workers to physically attack several union leaders, including the president. The attack was in retaliation for a complaint submitted by the union on 16 March to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh alleging that the company had failed to maintain building safety practices. An Accord inspection on 19 March confirmed that the factory was not in compliance.

The factory union, affiliated with the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers’ Federation (BGIWF), received its registration in December 2014 and on 14 January 2015 submitted a charter of demands for collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
. Over the next three months, management continually relocated union leaders, threatened rank-and-file workers with retaliatory increases in production targets if they talked to any of the union leaders, formed a bogus management-controlled union at the factory, and forced many workers to sign a petition denouncing the union’s demands. Union leaders also received anonymous phone calls threatening violence.

After the 2 April attacks management demanded that nine union leaders resign from D&D. When they refused, management called the police, who threatened to arrest those who did not agree to resign. Most did, except the union president, who was forcibly removed from the factory and threatened with violence. Complaints and demands for reinstatement to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMA) were to no avail. It took months of pressure from buyers, urged by the accord, to convince D&D management to reinstate the union leaders, which they finally did on 15 December 2015.

Anti-union tactics rife in garment factories01-04-2015

In April 2015 Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report “Whoever Raises Their Head, Suffers the Most: Workers’ Rights in Bangladesh’s Garment Factories”. Based on interviews with more than 160 workers from 44 factories, it details numerous rights abuses and anti-union tactics by employers. Despite recent labour law reforms, says Human Rights Watch, workers who try to form unions face threats, intimidation, dismissal, and sometimes physical assault at the hands of factory management or hired third parties.

A union leader at a factory in Gazipur, for example, said that when she and others tried to set up a union in January 2014, they were brutally assaulted and scores of workers were fired. A union president at another factory was beaten as he left work with his wife who was also targeted. “She was beaten on her head and on her back. Her arms were severely injured and bleeding. Bones of one of her fingers were broken. She had to get 14 stitches on her head. When they were beating up Mira, they were saying ‘You want to do union activities? Then we will shower you with blood.’ ” Another organiser who suffered a fractured leg after being beaten by thugs said, “One thug yelled at me that if he heard me speak the name of the NGWF [an umbrella union] in the future, he would cut out my tongue.”
The result of such tactics is that despite recent labour law reforms, fewer than ten per cent of garment factories have trade unions. This takes on particular significance in light of the recent major disasters – the 2012 Tazreen fire and the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse - in Bangladesh’s garment industry, causing hundreds of deaths. “If Bangladesh wants to avoid another Rana Plaza disaster, it needs to effectively enforce its labour law and ensure that garment workers enjoy the right to voice their concerns about safety and working conditions without fear of retaliation or dismissal,” said Phil Robertson, HRW’s Asia deputy director.
The January 2016 evaluation of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact by the ITUC, Industriall and UNI Global Union is equally critical. The sustainability compact was established between the European Union and the Government of Bangladesh with the support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
) to improve labour rights and health and safety in the ready-made garment sector in the country. However, as the evaluation points out, the Bangladesh Labour Act of 2013 falls far short of international labour standards international labour standards Principles and norms related to labour matters, primarily codified in the Conventions and the Recommendations of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Include core labour rights such as freedom of association and the right to organise, the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike, which are all covered by ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

See ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
on collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
and freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
, and despite comments by the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
, nothing had been done in 2015 to amend provisions on these fundamental rights. At the same time trade unions remain banned in the export processing zones (EPZ export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. s) while Worker Welfare Associations do not enjoy the same privileges and no real collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
takes place. “The evidence is clear and compelling – it is still extremely difficult for workers to exercise their fundamental labour rights in Bangladesh. The inability of many workers to organise and form unions without retaliation and to bargain collectively over the terms and conditions of work means that any gains in building and fire safety and other conditions of work will not be sustainable, leading to certain future tragedies.”

Employer interference with trade union elections17-03-2014

Berger Paints, a paint manufacturing company with over 65 per cent of the market share in Bangladesh, sacked the general secretary of the Berger Paints Employees’ Union just before he was due to be re-elected for a third consecutive term. The company then pressured the remaining workers into holding a union election shortly afterwards. IndustriALL reported that the result of the election was “heavily influenced by the clearly illustrated risk of being sacked for raising a strong voice in defence of workers”.

Employer refusal to bargain with representative unions31-12-2014

The Azim Group, one of the country’s largest and most influential employers, consistently refused to recognise trade unions at the Global Garments factory throughout 2014. The company only agreed to recognise the trade union in December 2014, after a US-based trade union put pressure on US buyers to cease buying from the Azim Group until it recognised the trade union.

Strike broken up by tear gas and storming police31-08-2014

In August 2014, Bangladesh police fired tear gas and stormed a garment factory in Dhaka where workers had been staging a hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
over pay, a union official says.
Bangladesh police fired tear gas and stormed a garment factory where workers were staging a hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
over pay, a union official says.

The police, armed with batons, forced 400 workers to flee the factory in the capital Dhaka where they had been holding a 10-day strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
to demand back pay back pay Wages or benefits due an employee for past employment. Often awarded when the employee has been unfairly dismissed. Not to be confused with retroactive pay (delayed payment for work previously done at a lower wage rate). and a holiday bonus, the official said.

“Police fired tear gas and baton charged us, they forced us out of the factory, where we were staging the hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
,” said Moshrefa Mishu, head of Tuba Group Sramik Sangram Committee, which represents 15 garment unions.

Workers were seen running out of the factory crying due to the tear gas, while others were bleeding from head injuries.

Discrimination of trade union members28-02-2014

The dismissal, harassment and intimidation of workers who have sought to establish or join a trade union is widespread, and has been particularly widely reported in the ready-made garment industry (RMG) and the shrimp processing industry.

In February 2014, the Labour Ministry completed an investigation into 16 garment factories accused of firing trade union leaders in the preceding few weeks. One example was Chunji Knit Ltd, a garment manufacturing company, which sacked 18 workers after they established a trade union at Chunji Knit’s Dhaka factory in February 2014.

In some other cases, the factory management paid money to union leaders and members to convince them to quit their jobs and cease their efforts to form trade unions. In other cases, employees have reported being coerced into resigning by force.

The US embassy in Dhaka reported that the management of Weltex Garments threatened the workers in an effort to persuade them not to establish a trade union. Company management forced workers to sign blank papers after they submitted their application for registration of the trade union and issued termination letters to the union leaders.

The US embassy also reported harassment of workers in Rumana Fashion and Fashion Unit, Masco Industries, Eagle Eyes Design, Sadia Garments, Global Trousers Management, Fashion Island, Tunghai Sweaters, Dorin Washing Plant, Norwest Industries, Shoab Knit Composite, Redical Design, Vobs Apparels Ltd, Samia Garments, Diamond Fashion Wear, Fashion Gears Ltd, Vision Apparels, and Eve Garment Ltd. The President of the Masco Cotton Ltd Workers Union reported that he and three other workers were suspended from work for two and half months for trade union activity.

A worker at Jalalabad Seafood Limited shrimp-processing factory reported that a while after a union was established at her workplace, the owners fired the union leader and sent thugs to beat him. The union leader had to leave his area and his home, and the union was dismantled.

Government refuses to register trade unions30-11-2014

There have been many reports of unions in the ready-made garment industry having had their applications for registration frustrated by the state and/or factory owners. In these cases, the trade unions seeking registration are refused or delayed.

For example, Basic Apparels in Uttara terminated 72 workers and union members, including three executive committee members, after they submitted an application for registration in September 2013. The union registration application was still pending in February 2014.

A report released in August 2014 stated that there are trade unions at only two per cent of factories the management of which are members of employer associations Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

However, 73 per cent of the BGMEA and the BKMEA factories and 89 per cent of non-member factories have participation committees. Participation committee is a body manned by representatives from both factory owners and workers. Trade union leaders term this committee as “pocket committee” of factory owners which actually works to favour owners.

In late November 2014, the State Minister for Labour Mujibul Haque Chunnu expressed the view that multiple trade unions would be bad for the RMG sector. When speaking to the council of Bangladesh Trade Unions, Minister Chunnu is reported to have said: “I don’t understand what good so many trade unions will do. Cambodia’s garment sector suffered a huge blow for approving too many trade unions.”

Transport union leader hacked to death05-05-2014

On 5 May 2014, the body of General Secretary of Jhenaidah Bus Minibus Transport Workers’ Union Abdul Gaffar Biswas was found in the Arappur Baro-bridge area. He had been hacked to death the day before by a group described in the press as “unidentified miscreants”.

The leaders of Jhenaidah Bus Minibus Transport Workers’ Union called a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in response to his murder.

Unionists attacked and threatened18-09-2014

Physical force, sexual intimidation and threats of physical assault and dismissal are often used to stop workers from organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. . This has been particularly widely reported in the ready-made garment (RMG) industry. Workers involved in establishing unions in RMG factories in Gazipur, Ashulia and Tongi in Dhaka, and in Potanga and Nasirabad in Chittagong have been beaten, intimidated, threatened (including threats of death), sacked and forced to resign by factory managers and floor supervisors. Some factory owners have also used local gangsters to threaten or attack workers, including in their own homes, and many female workers have reported receiving threats and insults of a sexual nature.

One worker reported that when workers in her factory presented their union registration forms to the company owner, he threw it in the rubbish bin and then threatened them, saying that he would never allow union membership. Unidentified assailants (including one with cutting shears) later attacked two of her fellow organisers. Two weeks later, a group of men, including a known gangster and the factory owner’s brother, visited her home and threatened her. She agreed to resign.

At another factory, a supervisor said any woman joining the union would be stripped of her clothes and thrown onto the street. Elsewhere, a manager said a female union organiser had been “polluting” his factory and that she should go and work in a brothel. A union organiser at a different factory said he had received a phone call asking him not to come to work again and also threatening to kill him if he did so. When he went there the next day, he was surrounded by a group of men who beat him and slashed him with blades.

On 22 February 2014, one garment worker leader and four organisers of the Bangladesh Federation for Workers Solidarity, two of whom were women, were attacked by a group of approximately two dozen men while speaking to employees of Chunji Knit Ltd, a garment manufacturing company. All five of the union representatives were beaten, kicked and thrown to the ground. One organiser was taken from the scene, beaten severely and dumped, unconscious, nearby. A female organiser was beaten, had her clothes torn off her and threatened with rape. The garment worker leader went missing.

On 26 August 2014, a female union president was beaten in the head with an iron rod just outside a factory owned by the Azim Group, requiring her to get more than 20 stitches. On 10 November 2014, at another of the Azim Group’s factories, a female union organiser was swarmed by people, pushed to the ground and assaulted, and a male union organiser was chased away and punched. Another female union organiser entered the factory before being pushed out the door and then shoved out of camera range.

On 18 September 2014, workers of Lifestyle Fashions Maker Ltd reported being clobbered with iron rods and bamboo sticks by 20-25 officials following a feud over the formation of a trade union. The attack left at least 30 people injured.

Trade unions and human rights groups have reported that the police response to attacks on trade unionists, including the abduction, torture and murder of labour activist Aminul Islam in April 2012, has been very poor. As at April 2014, no one had been arrested or tried for his murder.

Workers beaten09-02-2015

On 22 February 2014, a garment worker leader and four union organisers were badly injured when about two dozen people beat, kicked and threw them to the ground as the five were speaking to workers in the dormitory where they live. One of the organisers was taken from the scene, beaten severely and dumped, unconscious, nearby. He and a female organiser remain in the hospital. The whereabouts of the garment worker are unknown. The organisers, all working with the Bangladesh Federation of Workers Solidarity, were supporting workers who had earlier approached the union for assistance and who had been fighting to be paid the minimum wage at their factory. The factory, which manufactures for Western brands, employs approximately 4,500 workers – many of whom had staged a wage protest on 18 February 2014, which was ultimately put down by police.

Anti-union discrimination against union leader09-02-2015

Golgar Hussein, General Secretary of the Berger Paint Bangladesh Employees’ Union, was dismissed on 4 December 2013 for his trade union activities. The union in Kalurghat, Chittagong, has survived years of management interference and intimidation in regular breach of the labour law and the collective agreement. Between 2000 and 2011, eleven union members and officers were dismissed for their trade union activities. Following Golgar’s dismissal the local management pressured workers into a union election on 27 January 2014.

Police attacks protesters07-08-2014

On 7 August 2014, police hindered Tuba Group workers from getting to the factory where they had been on an indefinite hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
for 11 days demanding their overdue wages and Eid bonus. Police used rubber bullets, teargas canisters and water canon to disperse the agitating workers on the factory premises in the capital. Moshrefa Mishu, President of the Garments Sramik Oikya Forum, and Bangladesh Trade Union Centre trade union centre A central organisation at the national, regional or district level consisting of affiliated trade unions. Often denotes a national federation or confederation. ’s Assistant General Secretary Jolly Talukder were arrested.

Police brutality26-11-2013

In November 2013, the Minimum Wage Board announced a 77 per cent increase in minimum wages. This would result in a monthly salary of 5,300 taka (USD 68) for workers. However, employers argued they would not be able to implement this decision. On 11 November 2013, workers protested against employers’ refusal to pay higher minimum wages and the rate announced by Minimum Wage Board, still the lowest in the world for textile workers. Police fired water cannon and rubber bullets to break protests injuring more than 50 people. About 250 factories were shut down in the Ashulia industrial zone on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka.

Violence and interference in demonstrations13-05-2013

On 13 May 2012, workers employed at the Ha-Meem Group protested about management violence against workers. Police intervened in the demonstrations which led to the injury of at least 100 workers.

At least 100 garment, knitting and packaging factories in Ashulia were shut for a day on 11 June 2012 after hundreds of workers of Artistic Design, a packaging factory in the Ha-Meem Group located in Narasinghapur, staged a demonstration demanding a pay rise. Thousands of workers from garment factories along the highway stretching from Narasinghapur to Banglabazar joined the demonstration. The police attacked the workers with batons to free the road leaving 10 people injured.

In July 2012, three workers who had participated in demonstrations demanding pay rises were shot by the security forces.

On 16 September 2012, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at tens of thousands of garment workers who were demonstrating in a key industrial area outside Dhaka, demanding a reduction in working hours. Two policemen and about 50 workers were injured during the clashes.

Violence and interference in collective bargaining12-02-2013

On 12 February 2012, the President and the General Secretary of the Coats Bangladesh Ltd. Employees Union (CBLEU) attempted to enter negotiations regarding an industrial dispute industrial dispute A conflict between workers and employers concerning conditions of work or terms of employment. May result in industrial action. at the Tejgaon Industrial Area in Dhaka. Management confiscated their mobile phones and forcibly detained them over night.

Violence and interference in strike action30-01-2012

On 30 January 2012, at least 40 workers were attacked and injured by company security guards from Rashida Knitting and Ware Limited and Megha Textile Ltd in the Ishwardi Export Processing Zone export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. when they protested against dismissals without prior notice and non-payment of annual leave.

Police violence at Rana Plaza factory05-06-2013

Police opened fire on workers who protested near the former Rana Plaza factory for fairer wages and outstanding salary payments which had been promised previously by the government and the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). Local media reported that 50 people were injured by police. The death toll from the Rana Plaza disaster reportedly now stands at 1,130.

Anti-union discrimination30-01-2012

Workers at Rosita Knitwears (Pvt.) Ltd. and M/S Megatex Knitters (Pvt.) Ltd. Companies in Ishwardi EPZ export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. began demonstrations on January 30, 2012 regarding serious violations of workers’ rights, including sexual harassment of a female worker and several discrepancies over annual raises and leave. As a result of the unrest, 291 workers, including the presidents of WWAs of Rosita and Megatex, were dismissed. In negotiation with the international buyers and the South Ocean Group (the owner), Rosita and Megatex agreed to reinstate WWA leaders Helal (Rosita) and Belal (Megatex) and the other 289 workers and sought BEPZ export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. A’s approval to remove them from an EPZ export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. “blacklist”. However, BEPZ export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. A refused to give permission to reinstate the workers on the grounds that there is no prior practice, nor are there provisions in BEPZ export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. A rules and regulations to allow for the reinstatement of a dismissed worker in his former jobs. Of course, there are no provisions (nor should there be) prohibiting the reinstatement of workers in law or regulation. Furthermore, there is precedent for reinstatement.

Murder of trade unionists01-07-2012

In July 2012, two workers, Mintu Hossain and Rokibul Islam (the latter a union leader) were murdered and 35 wounded by government-provided security guards at the Akij Bidi Factory in Daulatpur Upazila. From available information, the guards opened fire on a crowd of over 3.000 workers had who staged a demonstration at the factory gates in an attempt to recover unpaid wages and to seek a pay rise. The plant manager, Khurshid Alam, gave the order to open fire on the workers. While he has already been arrested, the status of his case remains unknown.

Aminul Islam, an organiser at the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity, was found dead in April 2012. In 2010, he had been arrested and tortured by police and intelligence services. From the information available, it appears that Mr Islam was not the victim of random violence but rather targeted for his trade union work. His murder was no doubt meant to send a clear message to trade unions and NGOs not to protest against the low wages, gruelling hours and poor working conditions that characterise the RMG industry. Some suspects have been interrogated, but as yet no one has been arrested, much less prosecuted. It is believed that members of the intelligence service are involved in his murder. Most troubling, Bangladesh PM Sheik Hassina, appearing on the BBC, cast doubt on the fact that Aminul Islam was ever a labour activist and further claimed that no one had ever heard of him before his murder.

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