Solidarity with Bangladeshi unions
Textile workers under attack
5 September 2010
The TUC is supporting an email and letter writing campaign launched by Amnesty International and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in support of Bangladeshi textile workers, who recently struck for a decent minimum wage.
Amnesty International's email action focuses on Police have detained at least 21 garment factory employees and labour rights activists following violent street protests in and around the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. They are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Some workers and activists have gone into hiding. Several others have said that they or their relatives have received death threats from security forces.
Meanwhile the ITUC campaign is calling for letters to be sent to the Bangladeshi Government protesting against intimidation and harassment of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), after criminal charges were filed against Ms Kalpona Akter, Mr Babul Akhter, and Mr Aminul Islam of the BCWS, and their family members were harassed and threatened with violence by police officers.
A model letter for sending to the Bangladeshi High Commissioner in London is below (if you send one, please copy it to the TUC International Department, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS).
Post it to
HE Dr M Sayeedur Rahman Khan
High Commission for the People's Republic of Bangladesh
28 Queen's Gate
London SW7 5JA
Or fax to (020) 7581 7477
Dear High Commissioner
Intimidation and harassment of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity
I am writing on behalf of (name of your organisation....), to protest against intimidation and harassment of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS).
According to the International Trade Union Confederation, on 30 July several criminal charges were filed against Ms Kalpona Akter, Mr Babul Akhter, and Mr Aminul Islam of the BCWS, and their family members have been harassed and threatened with violence by police officers. We understand that Ms Akter and Mr Islam were arrested on 12 August 2010.
It is reported that BCWS leaders have been accused of inciting worker unrest. However, BCWS is an internationally known and well respected advocate for workers' rights. Also it is reported that cases have been filed against other worker leaders including Montu Ghosh, Mahbub Islam, Bazlur Rashid Feruz, Moshrefa Mishu, Sultan Bahar, Nasim Nasrin, Ruhul Amin and Abul Hossain and that several had to go into hiding.
(Name of your organisation....) understands that they have been charged in connection with demonstrations against the new minimum wage proposal announced on 29 July and that many other labour leaders and strike participants were arrested or have had arrest warrants issued against them. Some say that at least 5,000 workers have been dismissed for involvement in the protests.
Police has reportedly confirmed that 20 people, including 7 women, have been arrested since the beginning of August, and that they had opened files on 'several thousand' workers. Some reports claim that at least 100 workers have been arrested and files have been opened against 12,000 workers.
Targeting trade unions and labour rights organisations for defending the legitimate demands of garment workers for higher minimum wages is against the right to freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Your government is under an obligation to refrain from such action under ILO Conventions 87 and 98, ratified by Bangladesh.
(Name of your organisation....) urges you to ensure the withdrawal of criminal charges of fomenting labour unrest filed against labour rights advocates and worker organisers, including Ms Akter, Mr Akhter and Mr Islam of the BCWS. It also urges you to release immediately all those imprisoned and withdraw arrest warrants issued against all other labour leaders or workers for exercising their fundamental rights, and guarantee their personal safety while in detention.
I thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.
Issued: 6 September, 2010