[UPDATE: June 23rd, 2020: The occupation is currently into the third day. The union affiliated with the GWTUC leading the protests is called Paradise Cables Limited Workers Union. There are currently around 300 workers occupying the Labor Ministry building located in Bijoynagar, Dhaka. They are living on the premises and holding demonstrations and giving speeches all day, and into the night. The GWTUC has set up a makeshift kitchen for food for the workers.
Members of other students and workers unions are coming by to offer their
solidarity as well. The workers have been negotiating with Labor Ministry
officials, but so far the owners have been unresponsive.]
The workers of Paradise Cable Limited factories in Naraynganj, Bangladesh, organized by the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) are leading an ongoing indefinite occupation of the Labor Ministry building in Dhaka. They are protesting for the immediate payment of their wages, which have gone unpaid by the owners of the factory for 13 months now. Their other demands include the payment of 3 years accrued overtime pay, vacation pay and bonus pay. The protesting workers are determined not to withdraw from their occupation until their demands are met. The workers had initially attempted to bring out a rally heading to the Prime Minister’s Office but were met with a heavy-handed response from police and security forces, who tried to intimidate the workers and disband the demonstration.
The Paradise Cable Limited have been producing electrical cables for 30 years. These cables have been widely used locally, as well as being exported for use abroad. But in recent years, the owners of the factory have started to engage in a vast money laundering scheme, patronized by the government. The owners have taken out business loans amounting to more than 700 crore taka from various banks. But instead of reinvesting the money in the workers and the factory, they have laundered it abroad and deposited it in various personal and business enterprises in places such as Canada, the UAE, Singapore, Sri Lanka and India.
Given the international scope of the owners illegal actions, and subsequent lack of sanctions by the Bangladeshi government, we appeal to you to assist in any form, including solidarity statements and other actions, that will pressure and compel the owners to pay the owed wages to the workers. The current COVID 19 pandemic and consequent rising cost of living has already made life unbearable for the workers and the non-payment of wages and other dues has only made procuring the basic necessities of food, housing and medicine that much more untenable.
We eagerly await your response.
International Affairs Department,
Garments Workers’ Trade Union Center