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4 Feb 2019

Marc Bain, Quartz

Bangladesh: H&M & Next comment on dismissals following garment worker protests

"5,000 workers protesting low wages in Bangladeshi garment factories have been fired", 1 February 2019

...5,000 workers or possibly more have lost their jobs, following massive protests in the country to demand higher pay, in what workers’ advocates frame as retaliation for the protests, but industry representatives call a response to acts such as looting and vandalism. Among the factories that have fired workers, according to one workers’ rights group, are some that supply well-known foreign brands.

... It named as an example Metro Knitting and Dyeing Mills—a supplier to brands such as Next and H&M—which confirmed terminating 287 workers. The Daily Star reported that workers were given 45 days of wages and dismissed on the condition that cases filed against them over the protests would be dropped.

In a statement, H&M said it considers “freedom of association to be a non-negotiable human right. It is a key component of our Sustainability Commitment and a fundamental requirement for all our business partners.” The company added that is “deeply concerned by the recent events in the Bangaldeshi textile industry.”

Next said it is aware of the situation and its “directly employed audit staff on the ground in Bangladesh are currently investigating this matter.” It added that it is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), which works to ensure fair supply chains and has a code of labor practices, and that the group is also aware of the claims...