1994: Dragon Sweater and Spinning Limited incorporated as a private limited company in Bangladesh. This is the period when many of the current experienced workers entered the workforce.
2012: Dragon Sweater becomes a public limited company with shareholders.
February/ March 2020: Dragon Group management in contravention of Bangladesh Labor Law, illegally lays off majority of workers, citing ‘economic losses’ from the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason. Management terminated the workers’ without compensating years of back pay and benefits.
Sidenote: Vast majority of workers were organized in the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) by then. One might suppose that union busting was a driving force behind the owners decsion to lay-off almost everyone.
March 2020: The Dragon Sweater workers start demonstrating at the factory in Malibag and in front of National Press Club to press home their demands.
June 2020: The textile workers lay siege to the Labor Ministry in support of their demands. There is also a siege of the Prime Ministers office in conjunction with workers from other factories agitating for their wages and benefits.
June 2020: Dragon Sweater management reaches out to ICL and Global May Day. ICL and GWTUC responded.
June/ July 2020: FAU Hamburg, FAU Freiburg as well as IWW Bristol, IWW Hamburg and other international comrades hold solidarity demonstrations in support of the Dragon workers. Also in Dhaka workers rallied again.
July 2020: New Yorker contacts FAU Hamburg and GWTUC saying that under these circumstances they will blacklist Dragon Sweater. BUT we are still waiting for a public statement!
No proper feedback from Walmart nor Lidl (yet).
July 2020: Labor union FOB (Brazil) joins the movement.
ICL working group Asia together with GWTUC and IWW Ireland decide to call for a Global Month of Solidarity with workers at Dragon Sweater! The idea of #UnitedAgainstTheDragon is born.
August 2020: The pressure is working. Workers representatives, owners, and the government sit for ongoing tripartite negotiations. However, the owners still continue to stall proceedings and deny workers their legally-owed arrears.
Following some more research we can confirm, that workers at Dragon Sweater produced for retailers such as New Yorker, Lidl and Walmart in huge numbers in 2019. Therefore they were one of the last major profiteers before closure of the factory in March 2020.
All 6.000 workers are still waiting to receive their full wages, bonuses and compensation payments.
Following the call for solidarity released by the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) various activities took place so far, e.g. pickets by IWW Bristol, rallies by garment workers in Dhaka, correspondence with the factory management.
The Free Workers’ Union (FAU) in Hamburg focussed its activities particularly on New Yorker. They contacted the headquarter in Braunschweig (Germany) asking them to increase the pressure on the Dragon Group and get directly in touch with GWTUC. Furthermore a rally was held in front of a store within the city center of Hamburg.
In reaction they did get in touch with the GWTUC within a few days saying that New Yorker will blacklist Dragon Sweater. The brand also responded to the email sent by the FAU Hamburg saying that under the current circumstances Dragon Group as a whole disqualified itself from any future collaboration with New Yorker.
Außerdem wird auch der für die damalige Zusammenarbeit zuständige Lieferant mit einbezogen. Dies erfolgt sowohl um den Sachverhalt weiter zu durchdringen, wie auch um im Rahmen unserer Möglichkeiten, Einfluss auf Dragon Group zu nehmen, möglichen Pflichten nachzukommen. Der Einfluss besteht vorrangig darin, der Dragon Group deutlich zu machen, dass eine weitere Zusammenarbeit unter solchen Umständen nicht in Frage kommt. Unser oben erwähnter Lieferant hat sich zudem bereits vertraglich verpflichtet, keine weitere Produktion unserer Ware dort zu beauftragen.Excerpt from the email sent by New Yorker to FAU Hamburg (July 8th, 2020)
[…] Damit Sie über den Fortgang informiert sind, werden wir Herrn Sadaat Mahmood bitten, direkt über die Ergebnisse zu informieren.
Außerdem werden wir uns erlauben, weiterhin mit GWTUC in Kontakt zu bleiben, um bestmögliche Informationen zu solchen Themen zu erhalten.
In the last paragraph New Yorker confirms to stay in touch with GWTUC. Furthermore they write that they will ask Sadaat (GWTUC) to keep the FAU Hamburg informed on developments. Well, they could have skipped that part, because there is a stable level of communication between those two labor unions. Therefore we also know that since then nothing happened. During that single phone call between New Yorker and GWTUC in the beginning of July, Sadaat asked New Yorker to release a public statement denouncing the behaviour of Dragon Sweater. The person working for New Yorker in Bangladesh confirmed that he will forward all the information provided by Sadaat to the management and that a statement from the brand is to be expected. The phone call took place on July 7th. But since then nothing happened, although GWTUC tried to reach out to New Yorker again several times.
Therefore we keep expecting a statement from New Yorker publicly denouncing how Dragon Sweater is treating the workers and demanding them to pay their due wages, bonuses and compensation payments!
The struggle continues – focussing on Dragon Sweater, New Yorker, Lidl and Walmart!
Various labor unions such as the CNT (Spain), FORA (Argentina), FOB (Brazil) and Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Ireland already confirmed to join the fight.
FOB in Brazil joins the movement in solidarity with the 6,000 garment workers of Dragon Sweater in Dhaka (Bangladesh). They keep fighting for their wages and bonuses after factory closure with the help of Garment Workers Trade Union Center (GWTUC).
This statement was published:
The Federation of Revolutionary Trade Union Organizations of Brazil (FOB) answers the call for solidarity from the GWTUC’s garment workers’ union and provides solidarity to the more than 6,000 workers at the Dragon Sweater Factory in Bangladesh who were fired illegally and did not have their wages paid in a pandemic context. The Dragon Sweater Factory works regularly for major brands such as H&M, Zara, New Yorker, Lidl, Primark and Woolworth.originally published in Portuguese on lutafob.wordpress.com
The context of the covid-19 Pandemic has been used as an excuse for several attacks on workers around the world and capitalism shows once again its true cruel and anti-humanitarian.
In this context it is important that the world’s grassroots unions strengthen internationalism and workers’ solidarity networks. FOB calls on all its unions, activists and workers in general to build denunciation campaigns against the brands that the Dragon Sweater Factory works on: H&M, Zara, New Yorker, Lidl, Primark and Woolworth.
We call on everyone to protest in front of Walmart stores in Brazil and to send us photos of these demonstrations so they can be forwarded to the fellow workers in Bangladesh.
We demand the immediate readmission of the 6,000 workers and payment of their respective wages!
In reaction to the call for Solidarity submitted by the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Bristol held pickets on three different days in front of stores belonging to Primark, H&M and Next. Beforehand they also announced the pickets on the website.
The Free Workers’ Union (FAU) Hamburg plans for a solidarity picket on Friday!
[UPDATE: June 23rd, 2020: The occupation is currently into the third day. The union affiliated with the GWTUC leading the protests is called Paradise Cables Limited Workers Union. There are currently around 300 workers occupying the Labor Ministry building located in Bijoynagar, Dhaka. They are living on the premises and holding demonstrations and giving speeches all day, and into the night. The GWTUC has set up a makeshift kitchen for food for the workers.
Members of other students and workers unions are coming by to offer their
solidarity as well. The workers have been negotiating with Labor Ministry
officials, but so far the owners have been unresponsive.]
The workers of Paradise Cable Limited factories in Naraynganj, Bangladesh, organized by the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) are leading an ongoing indefinite occupation of the Labor Ministry building in Dhaka. They are protesting for the immediate payment of their wages, which have gone unpaid by the owners of the factory for 13 months now. Their other demands include the payment of 3 years accrued overtime pay, vacation pay and bonus pay. The protesting workers are determined not to withdraw from their occupation until their demands are met. The workers had initially attempted to bring out a rally heading to the Prime Minister’s Office but were met with a heavy-handed response from police and security forces, who tried to intimidate the workers and disband the demonstration.
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