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Stop attacking Bangladeshi workers rights - week of solidarity statement

Joining the global solidarity action, member organizations of the CCC East Asia Coalition sent a joint letter to Embassy of Bangladesh in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea.

Embassy/ Consulate General of Bangladesh in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea                  

Dear Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Ambassador Abida Islam, and Consul General Mr. Mehdi Hasan,  

On behalf of Clean Clothes Campaign East Asia Coalition (CCCEA), China Labor Bulletin, Yokohama Action Research, Globalization Monitor, Labour Education and Service Network, Worker Empowerment, Labour Action China, Korean House for International Solidarity. I write to express our concerns about key matters of interest for ready-made-garment workers in Bangladesh.

First, we urge the government of Bangladesh to allow the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to fully and independently continue operations in Bangladesh for the duration of the private contract, which remains binding upon the 192 signatory brands until 2021, or until the government’s Remediation and Coordination Cell (RCC) is demonstrably ready. There is broad consensus that the latter is not yet the case. The Accord has been instrumental in radically improving the safety of garment factories in Bangladesh since it was established in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 that claimed over a thousand lives. The Accord has identified more than 100,000 fire, building, and electrical hazards and the large majority have been rectified. Over two million workers have participated in safety training in over 1,000 factories. Despite this progress, the work is not yet completed and dangers remain as over 50 percent of the factories still lack adequate fire alarm and detection systems and 40 percent are currently completing structural renovations. Therefore, it is critical that the Accord be allowed to continue its important and life-saving work.

Furthermore, we want to express our deep concern about the repressive measures used by Bangladesh’s police and other security forces in response to recent wage protests, which resulted in dozens of demonstrators injured, one death, and, reportedly, hundreds of dismissals. The workers protested the recently announced minimum wage revision, which falls far short from the demands of the unions leaders and is nowhere near a living wage, as well as the unequal treatment of workers in different pay grades. Under the revised wage, most pay grades continued to receive an almost unchanged low base wage on which their overtime payments and other bonuses will be calculated, which is only very minimally improved by the increases agreed since the start of the protests.

In solidarity with garment workers in Bangladesh in multiple countries in the week of 28 January, groups in different countries will join protest in front of the Bangladesh embassy to underscore our concern. We urge the government of Bangladesh fulfill its duty to protect and respect workers’ rights.

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