The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a consortium of European fashion brands and buyers, has requested the Bangladesh government to form a wage board for the workers of the readymade garment sector.
In a letter to prime minister Sheikh Hasina on January 12, the Accord also expressed a grave concern over the government’s response to the recent RMG industry unrest and wage protests in the Ashulia industrial belt saying that some of the garment factory owners in the area were reportedly and questionably using the industry unrest as a basis for mass termination of union supportive workers.
The platform expressed concern over the recent detentions and termination from employment of individuals with union affiliation and who promote workers’ rights in the RMG factories located at Ashulia.
‘We have received credible reports that since late December 2016 at least 14 such persons have been detained or arrested; that 11 of these remain in police custody; that two-three of [them] have been subject to beatings and/or threats; and that approximately 1,500 workers have been terminated from their employment at several Ashulia located RMG factories,’ the Accord said in its letter.
It said that the Accord signatories were concerned that as many as 700 more persons faced court allegations and potential arrest allegedly under the auspices of the Ashulia unrest.
The Accord also sent the copy of the letter to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Apparel workers at Ashulia held protests in December last year, demanding an increase in their minimum wage to Tk 16,000 from Tk 5,300.
Terming the workers’ demands illegal, the authorities of 85 factories on December 20 announced closure of their units under Section 13(1) of the Labour Act for an indefinite period.
The factory owners, how
ever, reopened the units from December 25 with massive termination and filling cases against workers.
‘We respectfully request that your good Office take immediate action to ensure that RMG workers’ rights are protected and that any associated cases of unjust detention, employment termination, and/or fundamental rights violations be urgently rectified consistent with the law and ILO conventions,’ the platform said in its letter.
Requesting the government to form a wage board, the Accord said that adopting a regular wage review mechanism would help foster needed stability in the garment sector and address root causes that had led to similar undesirable and unacceptable situations in the Bangladesh RMG industry in the recent past.
The Accord is an agreement of nearly 220 global apparel companies and retailers with global and Bangladeshi trade unions representing garment manufacturing and retail workers.
The platform was formed in May 2013 in the aftermath of Rana Plaza building collapse to help make the RMG factories in Bangladesh safe.
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