Bangladesh: 1,100 garment workers protest to demand unpaid wages & benefits from A-One BD Ltd. following factory closure
In March 2020, A-One BD Ltd. garment factory in the Dhaka Export Processing Zone in Bangladesh closed, reportedly as a result of foreign buyers cancelling orders, without paying workers’ wages owned since January 2020. At the time of closure, the factory employed over 1,100 workers, who have since staged a series of protests to demand the reopening of the factory, and the payment of all arrears - including owed wages and benefits. In early December 2020, protestors were left injured after police violently attacked them with batons, tear gas and water cannons while they were asleep. In January 2021, workers submitted their demands to the Prime Minister, seeking intervention.
In October 2020, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) invited Arcadia Group (listed publicly as a buyer from A-One) to respond. Arcadia Group responded and said it has not worked with this factory since early 2019. However, this has been contested by Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) who alleges A-One was producing for Arcadia Group until 2020. In addition, they identified Next and Benetton Group as also sourcing from the factory in the months directly before the factory closed, and said New Look also sourced from the factory in the preceding year. It its rejoinder, CCC states that, “We believe that if brands suddenly pull out considerable orders… then they also carry responsibility for the workers’ situation the year after if they did so without a responsible exit plan.”
In February 2021, BHRRC invited the brands to respond to the rejoinder. New Look said it hadn't sourced from the factory since 2018. Both Benetton Group and Next said they received their last deliveries from the factory in December 2019. Arcadia Group did not provide further comment to its original response. The full responses are included below.
This case is featured in BHRRC's report, Wage theft and pandemic profits: The right to a living wage for garment workers, released in March 2021.