USW urges Dhaka to release arrested garment workers

February 08, 2019 - Bangladesh

The United Steelworkers (USW), one of the largest unions in North America and Canada, has urged Bangladesh to immediately release all garment workers and union members arrested on alleged ‘trumped-up charges’ due to protest demonstrations against the inadequate minimum wage rise and drop charges against workers involved in demonstrations in December last year.

USW national director for Canada Ken Neumann wrote a letter in this regard to Mizanur Rahman, Bangladesh High Commissioner in the country, according to a report in Bangladesh English-language daily ‘The New Age’.

It has also demanded dropping charges that remained unsettled following the protests in 2016 demanding wage hike.

‘We are deeply concerned about the repressive measures taken in the last two months against workers protesting against the wholly inadequate minimum wage increase announced in November 2018, as well as the unequal treatment of workers in different pay grades,’ Neumann, reportedly said in his letter.

For the past two months, garment workers have been taking to the streets demanding a decent living wage for their work and the protests have been tackled with violence and repression, USW said.

Thousands of workers had been terminated and dozens of charges had been filed against workers and leaders, it said.

USW also requested the country’s Supreme Court to lift the restraining order and ensure that the Accord on Building and Fire Safety in Bangladesh can continue its operations for the duration of the three-year transition agreement or until the designated oversight committee determines that the Remediation and Coordination Cell is capable of taking over its tasks. (DS)