In a letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has addressed the on-going wage concerns, arrests of labour leader and worker terminations. The appeal addresses the fallout from minimum wage disputes in the Ashulia district of Dhaka last month after which 1,600 workers lost their jobs, 600 faced legal charges and 11 garment union leaders were arrested.
The unions also accused security forces with raiding private homes, shutting down union offices and burning membership documents. The AAFA used this opportunity to reaffirm its support for the ‘rights of workers to freely associate, including associated legal protections from harassment, intimidation, and termination for exercising their right to freely associate’. And it says it stands against any illegal actions, be they from workers, labor groups, or factory owners.
AAFA is the latest group to address the ongoing situation including IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union. To quell this and further disputes, the AAFA has suggested regular wage reviews. On behalf of its 1,000 members the organization has called for the swift resolution of the wage issues and arrests in order for the sector to continue to enjoy a healthy relationship with the brands it supplies. The Bangladesh apparel industry employs 4.5 million people and accounts for 83 per cent of the country’s overall exports.