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Garment worker killed and many injured in protest at Bangladesh EPZ

6 July, 2021A woman garment worker was killed and many were injured on 13 June 2021 following a police crackdown on protesting workers of Lenny Fashions and Lenny Apparels at Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ), Ashulia. The workers were demanding their wages after the closure of the factory.

According to reports, Jesmin Begum (32), a garment worker who worked for Lenny Fashions, suffered fatal injuries after she hit an iron pole while running away from the site of the protest as police violently dispersed the demonstrators. A large number of workers were injured when police fired rubber bullets, threw teargas shells, used water cannons and baton charged protesting workers at Dhaka-Tangail Highway at DEPZ, Ashulia.

Begum and the protesters are part of over 6,000 workers who lost their jobs when Lenny Fashion and Lenny Apparels, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based Must Garment, closed on 20 January 2021. The employers have not fully paid wage arrears owed to the workers. The employer claims to have made partial payment, and plans to make the final payment to workers only after selling the factory, which will take time.

According to Must Garment, the factories were closed due to order cancellations, price falls and a shortage of work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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

“We are deeply concerned by the violence used by the law enforcement agencies. Genuine social dialogue with workers’ representatives must be followed to find a resolution. The Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority should ensure that workers are not unjustly affected by the closures and make sure that employers pay workers what they are owed promptly.”

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary, said,

“IndustriALL condemns the violence used against the workers. This incident shows the importance of allowing unions to function in the EPZ. We call upon the government of Bangladesh to consider the demands of trade unions to work in the EPZs.”

Photo: Solidarity Center