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
The Global Month of Solidarity is over, but the fight for full wages and severance pay continues for the garment workers at Dragon Sweater in Dhaka. On September 17th hundreds of them rallied once again in the city and managed to lay siege to the Labor Ministry after breaking through a police line. They shouted slogans such as “Action! Action! – Direct Action!; Workers’ Action! – Direct Action!” and “Workers of the World unite!”.
During the Global Month of Solidarity the (former) garment workers at Dragon Sweater in Dhaka organized with the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) held a press conference on August 29th, blocked the Labor Ministry on August 31st and attempetd to lay siege to the factory owner’s residency on September 7th. The fight continues.
After negotiations with the factory owners broke down, hundreds of workers took to the streets again on September 10th. They stopped at the National Press Club as well as the Labor Ministry.
Though the police came to the scene, there were no confrontations this time.
On September 6th textile workers rallied in front of the National Press Club.
There they announced to lay siege to the factory owner’s residency. His name is Mostafa Golam Quddus. He is the majority shareholder and managing director of the Dragon Group.
Currently, Mostafa Golam Quddus occupies the position of Chairman for Dragon Group of Cos., Chairman of Rupali Insurance Co. Ltd. and CEO, Director & Managing Director at Dragon Sweater & Spinning Ltd. Mr. Quddus is also on the board of Imperial Sweaters (BD) Ltd., Perag Socks Industries Ltd., CD Spinning Mills Ltd. and CD Acrylic BD Ltd.source: marketscreener.com
In his past career Mr. Quddus occupied the position of President at Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association.
On September 7th around 500 garment workers rallied in front of the Ministry of Labour.
When attempting to reach the residency of the factory owner, which is located in Gulshan, the wealthiest area in Dhaka, the workers were blocked by a strong police force. According to people on the ground, workers were also attacked by ruling party cadres.
Fortunately no injuries or arrests were reported.
The struggle continues.
For more info: globalmayday.net
As the movement spreads around the world, some Bangladeshi mainstream media became suddently concerned about the international coordinations in solidarity with the textile workers at Dragon Sweater and Imperial Sweater (Dragon Group). They are mostly framed as “anti-national”, stating that they tarnish the interests of the garment sector in Bangladesh. A strategy already used by the Dragon Sweater management in the past to defame the labor union Garment Workers Trade Union Center (GWTUC) and its actions.
Here are two examples:
An attempted translation of the second article:
The country’s export sector in the image crisis!original article (published online and offline)
This time there is a series of actions in Europe to get owed payments of the garment workers.
Dissatisfaction has been going on for two years over the issue of layoffs and dues in several factories of Dragon Group in Malibagh. Last Monday, the workers also took position in front of the Labor Ministry in the capital’s Vijayanagar. This time the workers’ rights organizations are walking a different path to realize their demands.
Representatives of various labor rights organizations have organized pickets in several European countries in front of Dragon’s international buyers and brand stores. Apart from Hamburg, Germany, there have been reports of rallies in several cities, including in Ireland, Spain and Brazil, alleging layoffs and non-payment of wages.
It is known that Dragon’s factories make clothes of brands like New Yorker, Walmart, Lidl. Gathering in front of the retail outlets of these brands, workers’ representatives from different countries demanded an end to the ‘illegal layoffs’ of the factories and the payment of dues.
The Garment Workers Trade Union Center is leading the Dragon labor movement in the country. The organization is part of the International Federation of Unions. It seems that this organization is the main source of communication on the international level regarding the issue of collecting the owed wages and benefits of Dragon workers. “We have been forced to tell the international trade unions to put pressure on the buyers,” said Monzur Moin, international affairs secretary at the Garment Workers Trade Union Center. For some time now, they have been standing in front of retail stores of brands in different parts of the world, including Germany and Ireland.’
Meanwhile, questions have been raised in various places about the issue of the country’s workers being dragged into the international arena. This is tarnishing the image of brands as well as garment exporters of the country as a whole. In this context, Monzur Moin said, “If the workers are not paid, why do they say that international buyers are also responsible. Because the brands are taking advantage of the deprivation of workers here. ‘
Joly Talukder, general secretary of the Garment Workers Trade Union Center, said, “We have suspended the program for the time being after factory and establishment inspection (DIFE) officials assured us that the issue would be resolved tomorrow (Wednesday).”
By the way, the struggle of the Dragon Sweater garment workers is also getting increasing attention in Turkey: