Victory as Bangladesh garment workers released

March 6, 2017
Bangladesh garment workers protesting for their rights in 2014.

Calls to stop a government crackdown on trade unionists and garment workers in Bangladesh have paid off as the 35 activists who were arrested in a series of December raids have been released.

However, major problems remain in the country’s garment industry as the government neglects to fully comply with its labour and human rights commitments.

The release of imprisoned Bangladeshi trade union activists and garment workers comes after a global campaign — led by IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union — called on the government of Bangladesh to stop its crackdown on garment workers seeking union rights and a living wage.

As a result, a tripartite agreement was reached on February 23, between the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC), the government and the garment manufacturers’ association, providing for the release of the arrested trade unionists.

It is an important victory for garment workers and trade union activists in Bangladesh, but challenges remain in the country’s garment industry as the government continues to ignore its labour and human rights commitments.

For example, a recent report concluded that the Bangladeshi government has failed to comply with the Sustainability Compact.

The agreement was signed in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, in which more than 1,100 textile workers were killed on the job when the factory they were working in collapsed. It called for improvements to workplace safety backed up by worker unions and collective agreements.

[Abridged from]

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