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.
On August 29th workers together with the Garment Workers Trade Union Center (GWTUC) held a press conference. They announced to continue their struggle for full wages and compensation payments. All of them (used to) work for the Dragon Sweater or Imperial Sweater factories. Both of the factories are located inside the so-called Dragon Tower in Dhaka (Bangladesh) and belong to the Dragon Group.
On August 31st around 300 of the workers rallied in the city and blocked the Ministry of Labor.
The following day, on September 1st, workers assembled to discuss further steps. More can be expected to come.
Workers organized with the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) in Dhaka expressed their gratitude towards the workers and unions in other parts of the world who stand in solidarity with them.
Today, the protesting Dragon Sweater garment workers held a meeting to decide on the next steps for their ongoing movement for the payment of their wages and benefits. They also demonstrated their solidarity with the labor unions and organizations of the Global May Day initiative who have been tirelessly demonstrating in support in Ireland, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and other areas. The workers in Bangladesh are immensely thankful to all their friends abroad who have played their role in holding global brands and garment owners accountable.
International Department, GWTUC
At the meeting the workers decided to take to the streets again. Place and time is still to be confirmed.
The Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) supports the call for a Global May Day as well and called for rallies in 13 different local areas with garment factories – many of them in Dhaka. The other rallies took place in Narayongonj, Gazipur, Chittagong, Ashulia, Tejgone, Fotulla, Kachpur, Uttara and Rampura. In addition one main rally in Central Dhaka was attended by around 1,000 workers. At the local rallies around 5,000 people gathered.
In their struggle for better working conditions garment workers clashed with riot cops in some of these areas in January 2019.
No incidents with the police were reported this time.
Ashulia Industrial Area
Tejgaon Industrial Area
Kachpur Industrial Area
Fotulla Industrial Area
The International Affairs Secretary of the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre (GWTUC) sent us the following report on their May Day activities in Dhaka.
Workers of the world, Unite!
Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre
Mukti Bhaban, 2 Comrade Moni shingha Road, Purana Paltan, Dhaka-1000
www.gwtuc.org; www.facebook.com/gwtuc; +8801924150250
GWTUC observe May Day demanding 16000 BDT
Minimum monthly wage & free trade union rights
In the wake of the great May Day, the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre, the organization of the fight and struggle of 4.5 million garment workers in Bangladesh, has organized a huge rally in Dhaka. The rally held at Comrade Moni Shingha Street at 10am. The leaders gave revolutionary congratulations to all the working people and people of the country in their speech. They announced this May Day as the May Day of the struggle for increased wages. The leaders demanded for minimum basic wage of Tk 10 thousands ($ 123) and minimum gross wage of Tk 16 thousands ($ 197) for the readymade garment sector of Bangladesh and urged workers to move to the movement. The leaders also urged all the conscience people of the society to join the struggle for the working people. The leaders further said that, the rights and privileges of the workers were being robbed by the owners and government. Most workers still don’t have a holiday on May Day. Workers’ rights are denied according to the labor laws. Workers don’t have safety of the job and workplace, and the right to trade unions freely. Unemployment, commodity prices, housing rent and housing crisis have worsened. Women workers are victims of discrimination and sexual harassment. The demand for declaration of the minimum wage of the country is still neglected. Leaders urged to build up the independent, pro revolutionary and class oriented trade union movement. They called for international solidarity among the working class.
One of the legendary and veteran leader of the working class Comrade Manzurul Ahsan Khan was the chief speaker of the rally. The president of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) Comrade Mujahidul Islam Selim, president of the GWTUC Mantu Ghosh, general secretary Joly Talukder also addressed the rally.
In the afternoon nine rallies were held at different industrial areas. The areas are Ashulia, Narayanganj, Kanchpur, Gazipur, Chittagong, Narsingdi, Tejgaon, Joydebpur and Fatullah.
May Day demonstration by GWTUC in the streets of Dhaka
On 29 April 2017 without providing any reasonable grounds whatsoever, the police authority unlawfully, arbitrarily and without exercising valid legal principles revoked the permission to arrange the pre-determined May Day rally at Ashulia industrial area. Where a strong strike and struggle has been held some days before for increased wages. But ignoring the barriers and facing the attack GWTUC held the rally and thousands of militant workers were there. Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) president Comrade Mujahidul Islam Selim addressed the rally.
Kanchpur Industrial Area
Fatullah Industrial Area
Badda Industrial Area
Narsingdi Industrial Area
In addition to the May Day report the following article was attached.
Observing the 4th year since Rana Plaza Tragedy
The Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre (GWTUC) observed the 4th year of Rana Plaza tragedy as another year passed by without the workers being compensated, rehabilitated and the people responsible for the commission of such a tragedy nowhere near to be accounted for their atrocities in a court of law.
In such circumstances, GWTUC began the day by paying respect to the victims who are resting in peace at the Jurain Graveyard at 8 am. One minute of silence was observed to pay homage by the leaders and members of GWTUC. At the same time another team of GWTUC leaders and members paid homage to Rana Plaza Memorial at Savar.
The government irresponsibly, recklessly and perhaps intentionally obstructed the public meeting of GWTUC which was scheduled to take place in front of the ruins of Rana Plaza at 4 pm on 24 April 2017. The police without any provocation or reasonable grounds whatsoever used excessive, undue and unlawful force to disperse the public meeting and took away the stage on the night before 24 April 2017 thus violating Constitutional rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Disabled and handicapped victims of Rana Plaza who were present at the meeting were injured by police brutality along with the leaders and activists of GWTUC.
On 25 April 2017, GWTUC organized a public meeting to protest and condemn suppression of constitutional rights by the government in front of National Press Club.
The leaders and activists condemned the police attacks on their public meeting on 24 April 2017 and demanded justice for the victims of the Rana Plaza tragedy. After the meeting, the procession protesting the events of 24 April 2017, went through several important central streets and ended in front of the party office of Communist Party of Bangladesh.
Following are the demands
- the victims dead or alive must be properly compensated as soon as possible;
- the victims who are injured and living without any financial security and the least human dignity must be rehabilitated;
- the people responsible for this tragedy must be brought to justice;
- 24th April should be declared to be observed and respected nationwide as a day of national mourning and a public holiday.