SF Denim Apparels, a readymade garment company in Dhaka, has terminated more than 700 of its workers without any prior notice and half of them were fired for their alleged involvement with formation of a trade union in the factory.
IndustriALL Global Union, a global union federation, termed the act as one of the largest terminations in Bangladeshi garment factories in recent times. It said the factory was terminating workers since early August. It also said five of the workers involved with organising trade union were laid off just days before the Eid-ul-Azha.
‘As workers returned to the factory after Eid holidays on August 18, SF Denim Apparels citing “work order shortage” announced one of the largest terminations in Bangladeshi garment factories in recent times,’ the global labour rights group said.
It said that at least half of the terminated workers were fired as they wanted to form a trade union under the leadership of IndustriALL affiliated Sammilita Garments Sramik Federation.
Factory authorities, however, rejected the allegation of terminating workers for involvement with trade union.
‘We have terminated workers as per the laws. You can contact with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association as the trade body is fully aware about the issue,’ Golam Mostafa, one of the directors of SF Denim Apparels told New Age on Saturday.
IndustriALL alleged that SF Denim Apparels had consistently been obstructing efforts to organise workers and form a union.
In response to efforts to form a union in 2018, the company fired more than a hundred workers and 38 of them (workers) moved to court against the employer, and the cases were still pending, it said.
Sammilita Garments Sramik Federation president Nazma Akter expressed her concern over the mass termination in SF Denim Apparels.
‘The workers are obviously targeted over their involvement in union activities,’ she claimed.
Nazma alleged that more than 30 of the terminated workers were pregnant and would not receive any maternity benefits. She demanded reinstatement of all the sacked workers.
Sammilita Garments Sramik Federation has also contacted brands that source from SF Denim, like C&A, H&M and Benetton, seeking their intervention to reinstate the terminated workers, but the union has yet to get any response from them, IndustriAll said.
BGMEA president Rubana Huq told reporters that SF Denim had been suffering from lack of work orders for the past six months and the company settled the workers’ issue with full benefits.
‘There has been no altercation, no dispute. Unfortunately the global trend is unpredictable and whole SF Denim has been able to continue with orders only for less than 50 per cent of its capacity. They had to take the decision with a heavy heart and have compensated accordingly,’ she said.
Rubana urged IndustriALL to apply to buyers to place more orders in Bangladesh.