For the past few months garment workers in various parts of Bangladesh took to the streets in their struggle for a proper increase in basic minimum wage. Currently workers are still paid at least 8 000 BDT (73 USD) per month. Labour unions demand an increase to at least 23 000 BDT, the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) fights for a minimum wage of 25 000 BDT. Following a week of intense strikes, blockades and street protests the wage board announced an increase of 56% (12 500 BDT) on November 7th, effective from December 2023. Unions reject this decision and announced to continue the fight for a proper increase.
Not only factory owners but also the brands sourcing from those factories are major profiteers of the workers’ sweat and labour. The products end up in stores worldwide. Therefore: Let’s globalise this fight, take it to the streets and confront the brands!
Note: Some brands released a statement directed at the president of Bangladesh asking for the conflict to be resolved as soon as possible.
Let’s turn Black Friday Week (Nov. 20 – 26th, 2023) into a Global Week of Action in Solidarity with the factory workers. Together we can pressure brands to express support for a 25 000 BDT minimum wage and condemn the ongoing state repression targetting workers and their labour unions. The brands must ensure that the factories they source from pay this minimum wage!
This NEWS section provides updates on the movement continuously.
The GWTUC released the below call, asking for comrades and fellow workers worldwide to do what they can in support of the fighting garment workers. You can also download the call as a pdf here.
To announce or share reports on your actions, drop a line at: email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org (mailing list)
Garment workers of various factories rallied in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka (Bangladesh) on September 29th. This protest was called by the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) and kicked off the struggle for 25 000 BDT minimum monthly wage on the streets! Though 25 000 BDT don’t even equal 215 EUR (227 US$), this fight is essential to every single factory worker.
In 2018 the minimum wage was increased the last time. Since then workers have to get along with a meagre 8 000 BDT minimum wage. Since then also many people in Bangladesh suffered under an enormous inflation rate. Especially lower wage workers hardly get along.
Therefore GWTUC, which unites hundreds of thousands of garment workers across the country, fights for an increase in wages for garment workers of more than 200%!
Look out for a call of international solidarity in the future.
media report: newagebd.net
The Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) spontaneously started a rally in the city of Dhaka, which was joined by around 500 workers. On a seperate banner as well as in speeches solidarity with the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) in Myanmar was expressed. [report in local newspaper in Bangla: atntimes.com]
Their main focus was on a minimum wage of 20,000 Taka (approx. 200€) as well as the death of workers recently killed by police during a protest. The workers at a power plant were demanding a pay rise as well as more breaks.
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
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