Victory in Bangladesh as jailed garment workers and union activists released

Toronto – March 2, 2017 – 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 2016 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 and supported by UFCW Canada – 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 manufacturer’s association, providing for the release of the arrested trade unionists.

While UFCW Canada welcomes this important victory for garment workers and trade union activists in Bangladesh, 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 Bangladesh government has failed to comply with the Sustainability Compact – an agreement between Bangladesh and the European Union (EU), Canada, and the United States, as well as trade unions and other organizations. 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 garment factory they were working in collapsed, and called for improvements to workplace safety backed up by worker unions and collective agreements.

It is time for the government of Bangladesh to honour its labour and safety promises. Sign UFCW Canada’s petition urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to tell Bangladeshi officials to honour their labour, safety, and human rights commitments by immediately complying with the terms of the Sustainability Compact. Click here to take action.