FTA and its members are deeply concerned over the recent wave of unrest that has emerged in the Bangladeshi garment and textile factories. Together, FTA along with over 20 brands including nine FTA members signed a joint letter to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urging for swift action towards respecting and adhering to workers’ rights, especially related to freedom of association.
In December 2016, protests in more than 50 factories in Ashulia escalated in Bangladesh as workers demanded a raise in their wages. This resulted in the arrest of 11 union leaders as well as the firing of up to 3,500 factory workers while there was increasing pressure to handle a large workload leading up to the holidays. It has been reported that more than 50 unions leaders have gone into hiding.
The joint letter recognises workers’ concerns and states that the root cause of the protests must be addressed through social dialogue. The text further requests that the Government take immediate steps to ensure the protection of the workers’ rights, with special attention to the legitimate representatives of the workers who have been arrested.
The signees of this joint letter strongly encourage the Government to convene a wage board for the garment sector. As proposed, adopting a regular wage review mechanism could help foster stability in the sector, which makes up of 80% of Bangladesh’s exports. Since 2013, there has been no minimum wage increase.
FTA position: FTA is concerned over the increasing cost of living in Bangladesh, which continues to contribute to the unrest among workers. The issues of fair remuneration and decent working conditions, are central to FTA’s work. Through engagements and close collaborations with key stakeholders, such as trade unions, NGOs, UN agencies, government representatives and other business associations, FTA works actively to promote improved working conditions.
FTA remains committed to support its members with suppliers in Bangladesh and aims to engage with the Government to uphold the respect and protection of workers’ rights in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector. The topic will be addressed more in depth during the next FTA Roundtable on the 29-30 March 2017 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Daniel Seidl, FTA Bangladesh Representative, will continue to monitor the situation closely.
Contact: Anisha Rajapakse, Senior Manager Stakeholder Engagement
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