Apparel Brands Pull Out of Dhaka Apparel Summit Due to Worker Treatment
The Dhaka Apparel Summit is an event that works to benefit the textile and apparel industry in Bangladesh. But, some major apparel businesses, like H&M, Gap, Next and Zara, don’t plan on attending this year’s event, which begins on Saturday, because they feel that authorities in Bangladesh aren’t doing enough to help employees dealing with repression from the government and factory owners.
In a press release, the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) laid out exactly why these brands pulled out of the event:
The unprecedented decision of apparel brands and other international actors to withdraw from the event is a major embarrassment for the Bangladesh government and the [Bangladesh Garment Manufactureres and Exporters Association (BGMA).] It underscores growing international concern over the deterioration of labor rights in the Bangladesh garment industry.
The organization specifically cited the police and factory workers’ response to the nonviolent protests of December and January, during which more than 30 union leaders, workers and organizers were detained, and more than 1,500 workers were fired.
Recently, the police closed down several trade union offices. While most of the detainees were recently released on bail, in response to international pressure, they continue to face criminal charges that carry the potential of long jail sentences and must make frequent court appearances, in some cases nine times per month.
“There appears to be a concerted effort by part of the industry and government to suppress any activity that seeks to enable workers to enjoy their rights,” Md Ibrahim, one of the arrested union leaders, said in the press release. “This has a chilling effect on all organizing.”
According to Sourcing Journal Online, the garment industry accounts for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports.
“We would like to reemphasize that the BGMEA is dedicated to the principle that no worker should be deprived from his or her constitutional rights,” the BGMEA said in a statement to Sourcing Journal Online. “At the same time, people have to respect the law of the land.”