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:
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.
Dragon Group must immediately compensate the workers with their owed wages, service benefits, and provident fund amounts.
Today, the workers of Dragon Group’s factories, Dragon Sweater and Imperial Sweater held a press conference to announce their plans to press home their demands for their owed wages, service benefits and provident fund amounts. The two factories are more than 25 years old and during this duration the owners have deprived almost 6,000 workers, some of whom have been working for over two decades, of their legally owed benefits.
The owners have exploited the instability of the COVID 19 Pandemic to terminate the experienced workers without their legally owed benefits. Even as the government set aside funds for the payment of workers’ wages, the Dragon owners have only paid 65% of the wages for April, May and June. The politically influential owner and ex-president of the BGMEA, the conglomerate of garment owners in Bangladesh, Golam Mustafa Quddus has used the disruption and suffering of the Pandemic to terminate the workers illegally without any legal repercussions.
The workers have been demonstrating for the past few months. They have held protests in front of the factory and laid siege to the Labor Ministry. Even as the government sponsored Crisis Management Committee have invited the workers and owners for meetings, on each occasion the government has refused to hold the owners accountable for the non-payment of workers’ benefits.
With this mind, we hereby are announcing our next course of action. From 31st August, we will begin our ‘Occupation of the Labor Ministry.’ In this continuous demonstration, we hope and expect that conscientious working class people will express their solidarity with our demands. Alongside the occupation, we further have plans to lay siege to the Prime Ministers’ Office, The BGMEA Office and the residence of the owners of Dragon Group in support of our demands.
Report on the press conference was also published by NewAgeBd.net.
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.
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.
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).
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 ongoing movement pressures the factory owners to resume negotiations. 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.
Textile workers thank comrades on the international level for their solidarity efforts.
At the end of August workers rally and block the Labor Ministry.
August/September 2020: The Global Month of Solidarity ends with actions in over 30 cities worldwide.
September 2020: Media in Bangladesh starts to report about the solidarity movement on the international level.
In Dhaka workers attempt to lay siege to residency of factory owner.
In mid-September negotiations break down and workers take to the streets and lay siege to the Labor Ministry once again.
October 2020: Hired goons attack protesting workers; 12 workers had to be treated in hospital. In reaction a solidarity statement was published.
On October 12th an agreement was signed by the workers, factory owners and government representatives! In includes that the factory owners pay 50 percent of the total amount owed to the workers in four installments on four different days. The first installment is scheduled to be paid on November 7th. As part of the deal workers also agreed to not stage any more protests related to this conflict in Dhaka and around the world. To uphold the pressure an open letter was sent to Dragon Sweater/Dragon Group nonetheless.
November 2020: The factory owners break the agreement. They didn’t pay. Therefore the textile workers begin to rally again. A week later they blocked the Labor Ministry for several hours with the factory owner inside.
The GWTUC attempts to support hundreds of affected textile workers with a daily warm meal and basic medical supplies. For them to be able to continue those efforts a fundraising campaign was initiated aiming to collect 20 000€ by the end of the year.
So called Black Friday was used as a day of action in solidarity with the textile workers and against excessive consumerism. Most actions took place at New Yorker stores. Reports from 11 cities were submitted.
Dezember 2020: After months of protests and international solidarity actions the owners of two big garment factories finally pay owed wages and severance payments.
January 2021: A letter of acknowledgement was sent by the GWTUC.
More than 18 000€ were collected during the fundraising campaign (more than 9 000€ through the gofundme platform and another 9 000€ directly on the FAU Hamburg bank account). To reach the goal of 20 000€ the deadline was extended until the end of January.
A first distribution of basic necessities to more than 500 workers will take place January 24 – 27th, 2021.
A more extensive report on this will be published soon.
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.