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!
Following the victory of the former textile workers at Dragon Sweater the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) sent this letter of acknowledgement:
International solidarity gains victory in workers struggle in Bangladesh
After months of protests and international solidarity actions the owners of two big garment factories finally pay owed wages and severance payments.
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.
All reports related to the International Day of Action in Solidarity with former Textile Workers at Dragon Sweater (Dhaka) and against Excessive Consumerism on Black Friday (Nov. 27th, 2020) are listed below.Continue reading
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).Continue reading
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.
Article published in Bangla: ekota.live
To support the garment workers in their struggle this fundraising site was set up.
To get straight to the point: The textile workers were not paid!
Since March/April hundreds of them have been struggling for overdue wages, bonus payments and severance pay. Following many rallies in Dhaka and an extensive Global Month of Solidarity, the factory owners signed an agreement with the workers on October 12th, 2020. According to that agreement workers and owners maintain an amiable relationship and refrain from conflict and renounced about half of all the money owed to them. In return the owners agreed to finally pay the remaining amount in four instalments. In addition an open letter – signed by 19 federations, labor unions/syndicates and collectives – was initiated after the agreement was signed. The first payment was suppose to take place on November 7th. Workers went to the factory – but no cash was seen.
In reaction to the non-payment hundreds of textile workers took to the streets of Dhaka the following day as well as on November 10th. For next Friday workers announced to hold a ‘hunger rally’ and lay siege to the Labor Ministry indefinately!
Local media like ekota.live report about those latest developments.
How will things continue now?
To discuss this further a local solidarity alliance consisting of the Free Workers’ Union (FAU) Hamburg and Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Hamburg together with a local group from Braunschweig held a meeting today. They agreed to initiate an International Day of Action in Solidarity with the Dragon Sweater Textile Workers in collaboration with the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) for November 27th – the so called “Black Friday”. Furthermore a fundraising campaign initiated by the International Confederation of Labor (ICL) and with support of FAU Hamburg will be launched next week.
More details on the day of action as well as the fundraising campaign to be announced soon – Stay tuned!
This open letter was sent to the Dragon Sweater Ltd./ Dragon Group management on November 1st, 2020:
In cooperation with the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) the following open letter was initiated and is herewith officially delivered to the management of Dragon Sweater Ltd.
Dear Deagon Sweater Ltd./Dragon Group management!
First of all we welcome the fact that an agreement between the textile workers and the Dragon Sweater management was finally reached. At the same time we have to acknowledge that the owners got away cheaply, since by far not all payments were agreed on that the workers are entitled to.
We will continue to observe future developments closely. In case we realize that you deviate from the agreement – for example by not paying your dues on the given days – we are ready to become active again by confronting your customers (e.g. New Yorker, Lidl and Walmart). The campaign #UnitedAgainstTheDragon would become even bigger.
International Confederation of Labor (ICL)
National Confederation of Labor (CNT) Aranjuez (Spain)
Free Workers’ Union (FAU) Bielefeld (Germany)
FAU Sektion Mönchengladbach
FAU International Committee
Feministische Gruppe Realitätenwerkstatt Freiburg (Germany)
Federação das Organizações Sindicalistas Revolucionárias do Brasil (Brazil)
Federación Obrera Regional Argentina
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Bristol (UK)
Central Organization of Workers in Sweden (SAC-Syndikalisterna) Fairdruckt eG
Root of Compassion eG
It is over – for now.
Following many rallies and press conferences by organized by textile workers of Dragon Sweater and many actions in solidarity at New Yorker, Lidl and Walmart stores around the world, an agreement was reached on October 12th, 2020. It was signed by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), representatives of the government, as well as factory owners and workers’ representatives.
The document consists of the following six points:
- The workers will receive every year a basic wage for 15 days as compensation for unpaid wages.
- All vacation wages and holiday bonuses after 2018 will be paid.
- The wages owed to administrative staff will be given based on the owners own accounting.
- These above wages will be delivered in phases according to the following timetable 7 nov 20 / 22 nov 20 / 7 dec 20 / 22 dec 20.
- The above is not applicable for newly joined workers.
- As according to the above agreements, the workers and owners will maintain an amiable relationship and refrain from conflict.
Why this is considered a partial victory only? Because in the end the factory owners get away with paying only around half of the benefits owed to the workers at large.
In mutual agreement with the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) labor union activities related to the conflict will be halted for now.
In case the factory management does not stick to the agreement and doesn’t pay the workers on the dates agreed on, pressure on the international level can be reactivated any time.
We call on all unions standing in solidarity with the textile workers at the Dragon Group factories to stay alert and keep following the developments.
On October 4th hundreds of workers rallied to form a human chain nearby the Dragon Sweater factory. With the help of the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) thousands of them have been struggling for wages and severance pay owed to them by the factory management.
In the middle of the rally workers were attacked by goons, most likely hired by the factory owner. Twelve workers were injured and had to be treated in hospital. In addition the owner filed baseless charges against dozens of workers for attempted murder. Another effort to intimidate the workers’ movement.
For more details see #UnitedAgainstTheDragon: Attack by goons – 12 workers hospitalised.
In reaction to the attack the local alliance consisting of the FAU Hamburg, IWW Hamburg as well as individual comrades – which already organized various activities as part of the Global Month of Solidarity – decided to submit this statement and encourage others to support it as well.
At the start of the week (Oct. 4th, 2020) news reached us, that comrades of GWTUC and former workers of Dragon Sweater and Imperial Sweater were attacked and some heavily injured at a demonstration by a group of thugs, which were paid by Dragon Group . At least ten of them needed medical attention at hospital. We condemn this action as well as other intimidation attempts, like filing charges against union members for attempted murder, which are totally baseless. As solidary workers we can’t and shouldn’t accept this. We continue to stand – and from now on even more – resolute on the side of our comrades in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Want to support the struggle? Here are suggestion of what you can do.