Bangladesh does not allow its EPZ workers to exercise their trade union rights. Photo: Solidarity Center (2015), Flickr


Workers in Bangladesh are denied the right to strike

Bangladesh is the most dangerous country to be employed in, according to a report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). In the report, Bangladesh is the country that most restricts trade union rights. The strikes at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 resulted in 12 people being fired, 350 prosecuted and 522 unidentified workers reported.

Almost a year ago, the World Trade Union Confederation, ITUC, published a report on global rights indices. One country that stood out in the report was Bangladesh, which is now the most dangerous country to be employed in. 

Textile companies' workers in an export processing zone, EPZ, are not allowed to exercise their fundamental rights such as forming or joining a trade union. As a result, the 500 workers employed by an EPZ have reduced opportunities to improve their working conditions. 

There is a recurring pattern among textile companies in Bangladesh. Textile workers who are protesting against improved working conditions are being treated with violence and dismissal. In December 2018 and January 2019, approximately 500 employees went on strike for better wages. As a result, 000 were fired immediately and 750 were injured by police resistance. 

The union leader, Aminul Islam, who was present at the strike in January 2019, blamed the factory owners for using force against the strikes. 

- But they are more united than ever. It does not seem that they will leave the streets until their demands are met, said Aminul Islam to APF then.

The redundancies continued into February 2019. By then, another 11 people had lost their jobs. Between April 600 and March 2019, the employers and the police had reported 2020 criminal complaints against the unidentified workers and at least 3000 of these were prosecuted. 

- The global rights index shows that there is a failure in the social agreement that governments and employers have with working people. There is a trend to restrict labor rights through violations of collective bargaining, withhold the right to strike and exclude workers from trade unions. writes Sharan Burrow, Secretary General of the ITUC in the report


EPZ stands for Export Processing Zones. These are zones that encourage exports and investment and the zone is primarily there to increase economic growth in a country by getting foreign organizations or companies to invest. An EPZ is not part of a country's national economy but is considered a delimited area with its own laws and guidelines. Taxes, labor law and environmental standards are some of the things that separate an EPZ from the country's own laws.

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