Tofail alleges IndustriALL acting against RMG industry

Romesh denies, seeks proof

Staff Correspondent

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on Sunday alleged that IndustriALL Bangladesh was acting against the interest of apparel industry of the country by spreading false accusation of labour abuse and denial of workers’ rights to international stake holders.
‘They (IndustriALL Bangladesh Council) are conspiring against our readymade garment industry as they wrote a letter to the US administration depicting labour persecution in our apparel industry,’ Tofail told reporters at a formal briefing at his secretariat office.
‘The officials of the US Trade Representative office showed me a letter, signed by IndustriALL president Nazrul Islam Khan and its general secretary Ray Romesh Chandra that contained false  picture of labour persecution in the country’s RMG sector.’
Tofail, describing his mental state after seeing the letter, said that he told the USTR officials he would not have known about the poor state of workers rights and labour abuse in Bangladesh had he not arrived at the USTR office.
Blaming the duo, the commerce minister said Nazrul is a central BNP leader, while Ramesh is a former Awami League leader.
Furthermore, the minister coming down hard alleged that labour leaders like Kalpana Akter and Babul Akter have long been labour leaders without being workers of any factories.
He said conspiracies were being hatched against the garment sector of the country as local and international vested quarters were active to malign the positive image of Bangladesh’s industrial achievement.
IndustriALL is a global union federation and involved in promoting labour rights throughout the world, while IndustriALL Bangladesh Council is the coordinator of 22 local labour organisations that are affiliated with IndustriALL, said Roy Ramesh Chandra.
Denying the allegation of Tofail, Romesh said no letter was written to USTR office or any other organisations from IndustriALL Bangladesh Council depicting negative labour rights situation in the country’s industrial sector including that of apparel industry.
‘I urge Tofail Ahmed to withdraw his accusation or show us the letter as I firmly reject the defamatory allegation being made by a minister,’ Romesh told New Age.
He said the allegation was baseless and urged the commerce minister not to serve the purpose of a few garment owners.
Tofail in his briefing said he had met seven congressmen and senior officials of U.S. state department during his recent visit to U.S.
‘I urged them to reinstate the suspended generalised system of preference in favour of Bangladesh,’ Tofail
said and added that GSP would be reinstated if no political consideration from the U.S. side acted negatively.
On political issues, when asked, Tofail said BNP chairperson had refused to engage in dialogue, but preferred a takeover by a third force before the January 5 election in the country.

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