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Bangladesh: workers win termination benefits

20 July, 2017IndustriALL’s Global Framework Agreement (GFA) with H&M paves the way for 986 workers in six factories to receive termination benefits, and the disposal of cases filed against workers by suppliers following the crackdown on unions and workers earlier this year.

In December 2016, Bangladesh garment workers demanded an increase in minimum wages. Employers and the government responded with repression on trade union activities, incarceration, and terminations for thousands of workers.

IndustriALL and its affiliates launched a global campaign against the repression. Based on the GFA, IndustriALL called on the Swedish clothing giant H&M to intervene and urge its suppliers to reinstate terminated workers, withdraw criminal cases filed by its suppliers and take steps to create an environment conducive to well-functioning industrial relations. Subsequently, H&M issued three conditions to its suppliers from the Ashulia area:

  • Withdrawal of the criminal cases filed by the six suppliers
  • Reinstatement of the wrongfully dismissed workers
  • Actively commit to engage with the NMC in order to achieve well function industrial relations

The national monitoring committee (NMC), set up to monitor the implementation of IndustriALL’s GFA with H&M in Bangladesh, worked together with brand representatives and held series of meetings starting in March,with its six suppliers including Artistic Design (Ha-Meem Group), Windy Apparels, Rose Dresses Ltd., Sharmin Apparels Ltd., Fountain Garments Ltd., Dekko Design Ltd. Representatives of BGMEA, the garment factory owners’ association, also participated in the process.

Following hard negotiations during the meetings it was agreed by all attendee factory management that they will withdraw charges and call for the disposal of pending cases in accordance with legal procedure. Respective legal advisors of workers and factory management will hold time-to-time consultations to expedite the process.

Factory management will be open to reinstating workers, and where it is not possible, the worker will be paid termination benefit and owed wages. Suppliers also agreed to continue to engage with NMC in order to create well functioning industrial relations.

Out of 1,074 dismissed workers from the six suppliers, a total 984 workers (92 per cent) have received their compensation. 76 workers who have not responded so far, can visit the respective factory anytime within this year to claim termination benefits. On the criminal cases filed against workers, the court dismissed four out of seven cases. About 11 cases of reinstatement are expected to be resolved soon.

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL director for textile and garment industry, said:

It is an important achievement that a large number of workers received termination benefits. The NMC worked hard to implement IndustriALL’s GFA with H&M in Bangladesh, and we congratulate them for their successful efforts.