WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) responds to complaints of unlawful termination of garment workers. The organization says it is launching a probe in response to a letter from the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) alleging said claims.
In a letter addressed to the prime minister late last week, the AAFA urged leaders to withdraw criminal charges against labor leaders and reinstate 1,000 workers who it suggests were fired over minimum wage protests earlier this year. The association says it also urges the Bangladeshi government to “end the uncertainty over the future of Western worker safety initiatives and redouble (the) government’s efforts to have the Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) inspect AND remediate all factories in the garment industry as soon as possible.” A provision known as the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was enacted following the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 as a means of improving garment worker conditions in the country. In recent months, that provision has seen challenges, and its future remains uncertain since the original agreement was only a five-year pact.
In their letter, the AAFA also credits the Bangladeshi government with elevating its garment industry to the second-largest in the world, as well as measures to improve wages and safety. However, the organization says “the aftermath of the minimum wage protests was marred by retribution by the government and factory owners against workers and labor leaders alleged to have participated in or led the protests that brought those deficiencies to your attention in the first place.”
A report by Bangladesh news outlet The Daily Star says BGMEA President Rubana Huq was unaware of the terminations and intends to verify said claims.
To read the full letter, visit http://printwear.ly/aafa.