Aminul Islam, a trade union organizer for the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF) and a member of the Bangladesh Center for Workers' Solidarity (BCWS) was found dead on April 5, 2012. Police pictures of his body suggest that Islam was tortured before being killed.
The Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) is pleased to announce that a new agreement has been reached between Bangladeshi and international labour rights groups and trade unions and US-based apparel company PVH (owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein brands) to improve safety at their supplier factories in Bangladesh. The agreement has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers currently at risk.
Just over a year ago a fire at That's It Sportswear garment factory in Bangladesh caused the death of 29 workers, and injured a number of others, eleven of them seriously. Sadly, in December 2011 two more workers perished and over fifty were injured in a stampede triggered by panic after a boiler explosion at the Bangladesh factory Eurotex. There is an urgent need to establish a credible programme to address the serious safety issues that remain endemic in the readymade garment industry.
Bangladesh is demonstrating its strong ties and deepening friendship with Canada with a visit this week from Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. But, as those ties grow stronger, it's time for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to raise growing international concerns about the country's harsh treatment of labour and human rights advocates, and the dangerous and unacceptable working conditions that plague the country's garment industry.
At least 28 more Bangladeshi garment workers have died and dozens more were injured after a fire broke out December 14, at a factory 16 miles from the capital Dhaka. Several workers appeared to have suffocated, while others jumped to their deaths trying to escape the burning building or were trampled by their colleagues as they rushed towards the exits.
We're pleased to announce that Kalpona Akter, Babul Akhter, and Aminul Islam of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) have all been released on bail following over a month in prison. Upon their release, the BCWS leaders expressed a "heartfelt thanks" to all who have supported them. MSN would especially like to thank all the members of our network who have taken action to condemn the attacks against this highly-respected Bangladeshi worker rights organization.
The National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) of Bangladesh launched a new campaign this month entitled "No More Fires, No More Locked Exits, No More Garment Workers Deaths." NGWF President Amirul Haque Amin, speaking at a recent rally, said "Since 1990, there have been 33 major garment factory fires in which more than 400 garment workers have been killed...One of the reasons for the large number of causalities is the practice of locking factory exits, as well as a lack of health and safety inspections in many of the garment factories..."
April 11 marks the fifth anniversary of the collapse of the Spectrum/Shahriyar Sweater factory in Bangladesh, which killed 64 workers and focused global attention on the chronic safety problems in the Bangladesh garment industry. Five years later, the February 25, 2010 fire at the Garib & Garib Sweater Ltd. factory, which took the lives of 21 workers, is a brutal reminder that more effective and proactive action is needed to ensure that garment workers in Bangladesh can go to work without fearing for their lives.
Simmering anger at poverty wages and poor working conditions boiled over into massive worker protests in Bangladesh in May 2006. Two workers were confirmed dead, hundreds injured, and over a hundred factories were set ablaze in several days of rioting.
In April 2005, 64 workers were killed, 74 injured, and hundreds left jobless when the Spectrum-Shahriyar garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed. In early 2006, there were a number of similar tragedies in other garment factories producing for European, US and Canadian retailers and brands, in which hundreds of workers were killed and injured. These deaths and injuries were entirely preventable.