Swift action by National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), the Bangladeshi affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union, along with workers of Tejgaon Textile Limited (TTL) and Ananta Apparels Limited and Ananta Fashion Limited helped score significant victories for the labour class.
About 800 workers including 450 women workers of TTL faced a crisis situation as the factory owner had decided to close it down following inspections by the ACCORD & Alliance which detected a major structural fault in the factory building posing a threat to workers safety. The decision was made during the Eid-ul-Fitr festival season with no assurance to workers regarding compensation and festival bonus.
NGWF rapidly intervened in the matter and filed a complaint to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and organized protest demonstrations demanding compensation to workers.
On 27 June last, after detailed discussions among representatives of BGMEA, TTL, NGWF and workers, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was reached which included compensation to workers and an Eid Festival bonus. According to the NGWF, the management made the payment on 1 July 2016 in line with the MoU.
In another significant struggle at Ananta Apparels Limited and Ananta Fashion Limited, the NGWF led 6,000 workers to resist factory relocation and win a full Eid festival bonus. Both these garment factories belong to the same group and operated in the same building in Dhaka city. Following a unilateral decision by management to shift the factory 30 kilometers away from Dhaka city, workers faced losing their jobs if they could not relocate, increased transport costs and detrimental affects on their children’s education. They were also concerned that the management may not pay the Eid bonus.
Again the NGWF intervened and supported workers at both factories to file a grievance petition to BGMEA on 20 June, which was signed by 930 workers. Soon after, workers staged protest actions continuously for three days which successfully brought management to the negotiation table. Subsequently the management yielded to workers’ demands and announced that they would not relocate the factories and agreed to pay full Eid bonus. Workers were also successful in getting the management to sack a managerial staff member whose oppressive shop floor behaviour led to a pregnant worker delivering her baby prematurely.