Below is a report by the Free Workers’ Union (FAU) Hamburg on their activities on March 8th – a day to commemorate feminist struggles worldwide. The original in German is online here.
With the activities around the day of feminist struggles, we set our own substantive accents and focused on the resistance movement against the military junta in Myanmar (or Burma).
The highlight was our rally in front of the Adidas store on Mönckebergstraße. Over 20 comrades, consisting of activists from the FAU, IWW and people who originally came from Myanmar and now live in Hamburg, gathered in front of the store. There was good music, a speech by a feminist in Myanmar, conversations with passers-by and some pyro-light.
To listen to the input recorded by a comrade of the Women League of Burma:
Why Adidas? Because the company says it continues to source clothes from six factories in the country. Many unions – including our friends at the Federation of General Workers Myanmar – are calling for comprehensive economic sanctions and the withdrawal of all international companies in the hope of weakening the military junta. After all, all taxes and duties flow into their pockets and also finance their repressive apparatus.
More background information can be found in this leaflet, several hundred copies of which were distributed (unfortunately only available in German):
Before the rally, we also participated in the demo of the 8M Strike Alliance, which started on the Reeperbahn. Many thousands of people were with us on the streets of Hamburg that day to make a statement against patriarchy.
We highly recommend the following video. It is an appeal by feminists from various groups in Myanmar, which was coordinated together with us. It also explains why we had a sarong at the rally:
We are also happy to announce that the fundraising campaign in solidarity with the comrades of the Federation of General Workers Myanmar (FGWM) ended successfully on March 8th. A total of 14,285 € was collected! 🥳
Thank you to everyone who helped to bring this to a successful conclusion!
The money will be handed over in full to FGWM soon.
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.
The struggle of garment workers at Dragon Sweater (Dhaka, Bangladesh) for full wages and serverance pay continues. So do solidarity activities at brands that profited from the exploitation of exactly those workers.
In the focus is also the brand New Yorker. Until 2019 they profited from the workers at Dragon Sweater. Therefore people rallied in front of a New Yorker store in Hamburg for the third time already (1, 2).
The store management was not amused and confirmed to inform the headquater in Braunschweig (Germany).
In the context of the Global Month of Solidarity with Garment Workers at Dragon Sweater in Dhaka, Bangladesh a local alliance consisting of the Free Workers’ Union (FAU) Hamburg, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Hamburg, the Libertarians H-Burg as well as individual comrades recorded this video message:
On July 3rd comrades of the Free Workers’ Union (FAU) Hamburg rallied in front of the New Yorker store in the city center for the first time. For the second rally on August 15th, a local alliance was formed consisting of FAU Hamburg, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Hamburg, the Libertarians H-Burg as well as some individual comrades. This one took place in front of a Lidl store in Harburg (Hamburg). And today a third picket took place. This time in front of the shopping center Mercado in Altona (Hamburg). Inside is another New Yorker store.
Music as well as audio messages were played. Hundreds of leaflets distributed. This time passers-by had the opportunity to deliver a message directly to the textiles workers still struggling for their full wages as well as compensation payments at Dragon Sweater. A small mobile screen was build, which displayed “From Hamburg to Dhaka: In Solidarity with the Workers at Dragon Sweater! #UnitedAgainstTheDragon” in Bangla. People were able to write down their personal message and pictures were taken with those messages in front of the mobile screen.
Also a pamphlet was once again handed over to the store management asking them to forward the information on the rally to their headquarters in Braunschweig.
All in all a successful action which generated more publicity on the struggle of the textile workers at Dragon Sweater to the disadvantage of NewYorker (and Lidl).
On August 15th a local alliance consisting of the Free Workers’ Union (FAU) Hamburg, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Hamburg as well as the Libertäre H-Burg and individual comrades held a rally in front of a Lidl store in Harburg, a district in the south of Hamburg to kick off the Global Month of Solidarity.
All 400 leaflets were distributed. One with contact details of the GWTUC was handed over to the Lidl store management. The manager confirmed to forward the information to the Lidl headquarter. We look forward to Lidl Germany getting in touch with GWTUC in Dhaka and blacklisting factories belonging to the Dragon Group!
Speeches were held, the audio messages of the GWTUC as well as the IWW Ireland were played. The public was generally welcoming our input.
Another rally is being planned for August 29th in front of a New Yorker store in Altona (another district of Hamburg).