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Bangladesh: union win to reinstate pregnant garment workers

28 September, 2020IndustriALL affiliate BGTLWF has signed an important agreement with Adams Apparels to reinstate twelve workers who were dismissed when the employer found out that they were pregnant.

The Covid-19 pandemic has deeply affected the Bangladesh garment industry. Large numbers of workers have been retrenched, and some companies have used the pandemic as a pretext.

When managers at Adams Apparels found out that some of the employees were pregnant during an internal medical check-up, they proceeded to sack the pregnant workers one by one in May and June this year.

IndustriALL affiliate BGTLWF filed a complaint on behalf of the workers to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), seeking its intervention.

After comprehensive negotiations between BGMEA, Adams Apparels and the BGTLWF, the employer and the union reached an agreement and signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  According to the MoU, the pregnant workers are to be paid compensation and be reinstated.

By 20 September, each pregnant worker has been paid Tk. 25,000.00 (US$ 289). It was also agreed that the women will resume their normal duties at work, once they feel fit to return after having given birth.

Kutubuddin Ahmed, BGTLWF president, says:

“This is an important victory, especially given the challenges faced by workers during Covid-19. Despite all our efforts, it is an uphill battle to win legally provided workers’ rights, like the right to maternity benefit.
“We signed the MoU in order to provide quick relief and ensure pregnant workers’ job security. We hope that, despite its limitations, this MoU will act as a deterrent and ensure that employers respect workers right to maternity benefits.”