H&M Workers In Bangladesh Negotiate Termination Benefits

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 11 months ago | News

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Over recent years, the Bangladesh government has sought to repress garment workers, which is an issue that really came to a head last December — when those same workers demanded an increase in minimum wages. The governmental response at the time was to place a repression on trade union activities, to terminate and even incarcerate thousands of workers. As a result, IndustriALL and its affiliates launched a global campaign to fight back against this repression.

Asking H&M — since the Swedish clothing giant wields so much power in the region — to urge its suppliers to reinstate terminated workers, withdraw criminal cases filed and take steps to create an environment that is conducive to industrial relations. In response, H&M issued three conditions to its suppliers in the Ashulia area: firstly that the six suppliers withdraw their criminal cases, secondly that the wrongfully dismissed workers be reinstated, and finally that the suppliers actively commit to engaging with the national monitoring committee (NMC) in order to achieve well functioning industrial relations. 

After much back and forth and some hard negotiations, it was ultimately agreed by all attendee factory management that these conditions would be met. They agreed to withdraw charges and call for the disposal of pending cases in accordance with legal procedure. While factory management also said they would be open to reinstating workers — and where it’s not possible — pay termination benefits and owed wages to the worker. Finally, suppliers also agreed to continue engaging with the NMC, in order to create well functioning industrial relations.

Out of a total 1,074 dismissed workers from the six suppliers, 92% of them (984 workers) have now received their compensation. Meanwhile, 76 workers who have not responded so far, can visit the respective factory anytime within this year to claim their termination benefits. In addition to this, the court dismissed four out of seven criminal cases filed against workers, with 11 cases of reinstatement expected to be resolved soon.

“It is an important achievement that a large number of workers received termination benefits,” said Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL’s director for textile and garment industry. “The NMC worked hard to implement IndustriALL’s GFA with H&M in Bangladesh, and we congratulate them for their successful efforts.”

Via IndustriALL Global Union

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