The IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC) has demanded immediate intervention by the government to withdraw false cases, free imprisoned and reinstate all dismissed workers in the backdrop of mass protests for wage hike across readymade garment manufacturing units. Over a hundred workers were imprisoned, over 12,000 were retrenched and cases were filed against over 5, 000 workers in the aftermath of workers’ protests against a meager wage hike in December 2018 to January 2019.
Despite both the government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) assuring that no vindictive actions would be taken in the aftermath of the protests, workers faced severe repression. Employers of 107 readymade garment units used this opportunity to punish innocent workers for participating in union activities, as most of the dismissed workers are plant level trade union activists and union members. About 2, 500 workers were dismissed at the East West Group and Abonti Color Tex factories. In February, 300 workers at Garib & Garib Company were fired without two month’s wages.
Employers are using a database of over 3.5 million garment workers, collected and maintained by the BGMEA to blacklist dismissed workers and union activists from getting jobs in a new company. Many companies have published photos and names of retrenched workers on their website, making it difficult for them workers to find alternative employment.