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Bangladesh: Human Rights Watch calls on govt. & global brands to investigate dismissals of protesting garment workers & end 'false' criminal charges

Author: Human Rights Watch, Published on: 6 March 2019

"Bangladesh: Investigate Dismissals of Protesting Workers", 5 March 2019

Bangladesh authorities should immediately investigate garment worker and union leader allegations of arbitrary dismissals and false criminal cases following a recent protest demanding a wage hike, Human Rights Watch said... Global garment brands sourcing from Bangladesh should investigate these allegations and call for an end to all forms of intimidation of workers.

After strikes in mid-January 2019, union leaders have reported at least 7,500 garment workers were dismissed from their jobs. Some of those dismissed were accused of vandalism and looting, but the allegations appeared broad and vague. At least 29 criminal cases have been filed naming 551 individuals, as well as over 3,000 unidentified people, leaving workers at risk of being arbitrarily accused in one of these cases at a later date. Over 50 workers have been arrested, 11 of whom were denied bail...

The use of criminal complaints against large numbers of “unknown” people is a common abusive practice in Bangladesh, allowing the police to intimidate and threaten virtually anyone with arrest, repeatedly re-arrest detainees even though they are not the named accused in the cases, and thwart bail. Union leaders told Human Rights Watch that many workers were in hiding out of fear of arbitrary arrest under these unnamed cases...

Brands sourcing from Bangladesh like H&M, KiK, Tchibo, Lidl, Mango, Next, Matalan, VF, Takko, ALDI, Marks & Spencer, Esprit, Walmart, JCPenny, and Tesco have the responsibility to respect and protect workers’ rights. They should call for an end to dismissals based on the exercise of basic rights and other forms of intimidation...

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Related companies: Aldi Esprit H&M KiK Lidl Mango Marks & Spencer Matalan Next Takko Tchibo Tesco VF Corp Walmart