The recent custodial death of writer Mustaq Ahmed on 25th February, 2021 has once again proved the autocratic nature of the Awami League in Bangladesh. The 53 year old writer had been incarcerated under the draconian Digital Security Act (DSA) for more than 9 months without any charges. The DSA has been condemned by human rights and political activists for curbing freedom of speech as the law has been used to arrest and detain journalists, cartoonists, writers, and activists en masse since it was inacted in 2018.
February 14th (Sunday) – Coordinations for a Global May Day 2021
This meeting will focus on the creation of a common framework: We want to finalize the call for Global May Day 2021! So far FOB (Brazil) and CGT (Spain) submitted proposals to include universal basic income (Basic Income for Equal Citizens). Other than that the call will be based on the common call used for 2020 with a particular focus on the pandemic.
For more than two months a fundraising campaign was coordinated by the ICL (International Confederation of Labour) working group Asia together with the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) in Dhaka (Bangladesh) and with support of the Free Workers’ Union (FAU) Hamburg. It aimed to raise 20 000 Euro in support of struggling textile workers who were fighting for wages, bonus and severance payments owed to them since March 2020. In the end we got more than 19 606 Euro, which is fantastic!
This enables the GWTUC to distribute food packages (and some cash) – which are desperately needed – to around 500 workers for three months.
The first distribution took place this January.
Workers of the GWTUC went to buy the components for the food packages on January 28th, 2021:
Distribution to around 450 former textile workers of Dragon Group factories on January 29 – 30th, 2021:
The packages include 10kg of rice, 2kg of potatoes, 1kg of salt, 1kg of dal (lentils), 1kg of onions, cauliflower, turnip, eggplants, sweet pumpkin, 500ml of soyabean oil and soap + 100 Taka (~ 1 Euro) in cash. Some money (around 140 Euro) was also spent on transportation and other expenses, such as bags and ropes.
Some workers already left the city. Therefore 41 of them received cash payments of 1 020 Taka (~ 10 Euro) each by post. Furthermore school fees were covered for 15 children (2 000 Taka each) so far. More will most likely follow in the coming weeks.
We also decided to support two individual workers. Minara B. received a loan of 527 Euro. The female Dragon worker and union activist was cheated on by her husband. After her husband left, she now has to take care of a child and herself on her own. Consequently the family had to take a bank loan. Unless she is able to pay back the loan to the bank, she would have to face a prison sentence. Therefore the fundraising will enable us to give her an interest-free loan. This way she will avoid prison and can take care of her child. When she is able to pay back the loan, the GWTUC will use that money to support other workers. With the support of GWTUC comrades she went to the bank and repaid the credit on January 13th 2021. Last but not least former Dragon worker ‘Babu’ suffered a stroke suddenly and received 7 000 Taka for urgent medical treatment.
Further distributions are planned for February and March. We will keep you posted here!
January 24th (Sunday) – Coordinations for a Global May Day 2021
This meeting will focus on the creation of a common framework: We want to discuss the proposal submitted by FOB focussing on a universal basic income (copied below) as well as other points that should be included in a common call.
The workers of Dragon Sweater factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh were laid off illegally during the Pandemic (Starting March, 2020) without paying them their outstanding wages and benefits. The workers started a movement to realize their demands and force the owners to pay their dues. International organizations and initiatives like Global May Day also started holding solidarity demonstrations.
December 27th (Sunday) – Kicking off coordinations for a Global May Day 2021
This meeting will focus on two topics: We want to explore how the #UnitedAgainstTheDragon movement in solidarity with former textile workers at Dragon Sweater in Dhaka went so far. And following Global May Day 2020 we want to create a framework on the global level to connect May Day actions around the world in 2021.
In Solidarity with the former textile workers at Dragon Sweater and against excessive consumerism!
This call was initiated by the Free Workers’ Union (FAU) Hamburg, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Hamburg, in Progress Braunschweig as well as the Working Group Asia of the International Confederation of Labor (ICL). It is also available in German here.
November 27th marks the so called Black Friday. Crowds will flock into the shops to stock up on stuff such as clothes. Clothes that were also made in the Dragon Sweater factory in Dhaka (Bangladesh).
Since the Dragon Sweater factory management broke the agreement with the textile workers, hundreds of them have been taking to the streets again. Since November 11th workers are protesting continuously in front of the Labor Ministry in Dhaka.
On November 15th the Labor Ministry was blocked with Mostafa Golam Quddus, former president of BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) and currently the managing director at Dragon Sweater as well as chairman of the Dragon Group, inside.
Monzur Moin, secretary of the Garment Workers Trade Union Center (GWTUC), says:
Workers have been struggling for more than six months. Workers are protesting in front of the labor building in protest of the violation of the dragon owner’s contract and demand for the immediate payment of all legal dues. That is why the workers have detained Mostafa Golam Quddus inside the building of the Labor Ministry. The workers agreed to the contract and waived more than half of what they were entitled to. The owners proved that they have no the least respect for the laws of the country and the rights of the workers by violating the agreement made with the workers who accepted huge financial losses.