IndustriALL is calling on affiliates to support the campaign to free jailed trade unionists and garment workers in Bangladesh.

The #EveryDayCounts Bangladesh sign

Bangladesh: Free jailed unionists and workers

06.02.2017

Since December 2016 at least 26 trade unionists and garment workers have been jailed for trade union activity in Bangladesh, following demands to increase the minimum wage. Join IndustriALL Global Union in calling on the Bangladeshi government for their immediate release.

Most of the workers and trade unionists have been jailed for participating in a strike in late 2016. The government of Bangladesh is using the strike as an opportunity for a broad crackdown on labour, arresting other unionists not involved in the strike. Many union leaders have gone into hiding for fear of being arrested and union offices have been closed down.

“The events in December and the current climate of union oppression are an alarming step backwards for Bangladesh. We must fight back to defend the jailed workers and basic trade union rights in Bangladesh,” says IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches. “I am urging you to stand with the jailed Bangladeshi unionists. Every day counts so take action now.”

IndustriALL is coordinating with UNI and ITUC a campaign to demand their immediate release and an end to the repression of trade unions.

There are multiple ways you can participate:

  • Hold an action at a Bangladesh embassy or consulate in your country. Make sure to send photos or video of the action to [email protected]. In some cities efforts to organize embassy visits are already underway.  If you are interested in participating or organizing a visit in your city, please contact Adam Lee at [email protected], who can help to link you with other interested unions in the area.
  • Either deliver the attached protest letter to the Bangladeshi embassy or send it directly to the Bangladeshi government (in English only). Put it on your union’s letterhead, insert your union’s name in the first sentence, add a signature and send it to the email addresses listed at the top of the letter.
  • Send the attached letter to your government asking it to demand the Bangladesh government free the jailed trade unionists and respect workers’ rights.
  • Take photos with the attached solidarity sign and post them online with hashtag #EveryDayCounts and send them to [email protected]
  • Sign the LabourStart online petition

Background

The Bangladeshi government and garment factory owners are using the wage strike as a pretext to crack down on the labour movement.

Wages in Bangladesh’s garment industry are among the lowest in the world. It is unacceptable that the demand to increase the minimum wage is met with arbitrary detentions, suspended production at 59 factories, the firing of well over 1,600 workers and police cases against 600 workers and trade union leaders.

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. 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.