Since March 2020 thousands of textile workers of the factories Dragon Sweater and Imperial Sweater (both belonging to Dragon Group) have been fighting for wages and severance pay owed to them. Workers that used to produce for retailers such as New Yorker, Lidl and Walmart.
On October 4th some of them rallied to form a human chain as a way of protest nearby the factories. While doing so the workers were attacked by a group of goons. They were most likely hired by the owners themselves to intimidate the fighting workers. Witnesses recognized some of the attackers as they are familiar with the owner’s security staff. They often observe the rallies held by the workers, but for the first time they also physically attacked them. After a while they managed push back the attackers. In the end 12 workers had to be treated at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
In reaction hundreds of textile workers came together for a torch procession in the evening.
At night the GWTUC went to Hatir Jheel police station to file a complaint about the incident. The officer in charge refused to accept the complaint. He insisted that first two parts need to be removed. One describing an incident in front of the police station and another the physical abuse of female workers. In the end the GWTUC decided to issue a complaint at the district court.
At night the union was informed that the factory management submitted a complaint as well registered by police under penal code 326, which is the charge of attempt to murder – a section not allowing any release on bail.
According to the GWTUC the owner claims that the incident happened in his factory, where workers forcefully entered with deadly weapons and tried to kill and loot. Which simply wasn’t the case, as can be easily seen from footage of the incident.
The following day workers held a demonstration to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner office. There they found out that 15 workers were named and up to 30 workers remained anonymous in the charges filed by the factory owner.
Needless to say, ICL considers this development unacceptable. The company has long been preparing the ground to deploy its strategy of union repression, accusing the workers of going against the national interests of Bangladesh. Obviously, in the eyes of the company, an uncomplaining acceptance of theft and terrorism from the bosses is the patriotic thing to do, as much as robing and attacking the workers. Wasting time on arguments like these is probably not worth it. In the coming days and weeks, ICL’s Asia working group will launch a series of initiatives to make it clear to the company that such an attitude can’t be tolerated. The only possible solution to the conflict is to address the workers’ demands. Until that time, international solidarity will continue to stand, without a doubt, by their side!
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