A press release signed by AKM Fazlur Rahman, member secretary of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), reads that the confusion created by media reports about top brands pulling out of the summit has been cleared as Buyers’ Forum confirmed participation of all the global brands expected to join the summit.
Amid growing pressure of international buyers and watchdogs for ensuring labour rights, Bangladesh authorities released 32 unionists and garment workers as of Thursday. They were arrested in December last year during their movement demanding a revision of minimum wage. Following a tripartite meeting between IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC), BGMEA and Ministry of Labour and Employment on Thursday, authorities ensured that the remaining workers arrested during the movement would also be released.
IBC General Secretary Kutub Uddin Ahmed confirmed the Dhaka Tribune about the release of the unionists and RMG workers over phone on Friday. The tripartite agreement to withdraw charges against the arrested workers was welcomed by different international bodies, however they also stated that their perseverance for ensuring labour rights in Bangladesh would continue.
Earlier, leading fashion brands including H&M and Zara had stated that they were pulling out of the summit in support of garment workers who have been sacked, persecuted or jailed for participating in strikes demanding higher minimum wage.
About participation of all global brands in the summit, the BGMEA press release added that all brands will take part in the three sessions focusing on the next course of action to achieve $50bn export target by 2021.
The tripartite meeting reached an agreement that the government will provide assistance to release detained trade unionists and garment workers.
Following the unrest at Ashulia in December last year, a total of 26 unionists and workers were arrested from the area, while nine others were arrested from Chittagong, said Kutub Uddin.
As of on Friday, 32 unionist and workers have been released. As per the agreement, the rest would be released within a day or two, he added.
“We have seen an incredible show of global solidarity and this is an important victory for garment workers in Bangladesh,” said IBC General Secretary Valter Sanches in a statement following the tripartite agreement. He emphasised on constructive dialogues between employers and trade unions.
However, he added that the issue that sparked crackdown on unions still remains and they will continue to support the fight for higher wages and closely monitor the situation until all charges against the imprisoned workers are dropped.
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said: “Around the world, we have seen an effective global solidarity with protests in dozens of major cities across the globe. From Kathmandu to New York, people stood up to demand that Bangladesh respects human and trade union rights.