Bangladesh is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people
Obstacles to union formation
Brutal repression of strikes
Workers in Bangladesh have long had their rights curtailed. It was virtually impossible for workers in the garment sector, the country’s largest industry, to form and join trade unions, as their attempts were regularly met with employer threats, physical violence and mass dismissals. The authorities also frustrated establishment of unions by imposing an extremely burdensome registration process. Even where workers succeeded in forming a union, registration could still be arbitrarily denied by the authorities. Between 2010 and 2021, more than 1,100 union registration applications were lodged with the authorities. The Department of Labour rejected 46% of them – an extraordinarily high rejection rate.
Workers in Bangladesh were exposed to mass dismissals, arrests, violence and state repression against peaceful protests. In the garment sector, strikes were often met with extreme brutality by the police, who used batons gunshots, tear gas and sound grenades against workers.
Workers' rights violations
Violent attacks on workers
On 25 July 2020, the police in Dhaka, Bangladesh, violently attacked garment workers from Viyellatex and Shofi Tex who were protesting unpaid wages and allowances. Police used disproportionate force to suppress the protest, using batons, gunshots, tear gas and sound grenades against workers. As a result of the attack, twelve workers were severely injured.
In June 2020, 3,000 Bangladeshi garment workers were dismissed as part of a union-busting exercise from three factories owned by the same company: Saybolt Tex, Tanaz Fashion and Windy Wet & Dry Process factories in Gazipur and Dhaka, Bangladesh. The three unionised factories are owned by the Windy Group (which owns an additional five non-unionised factories). 1,600 workers were fired from SAYBOLT TEX, 1,200 from Tanaz Fashion and 200 from Windy Wet & Dry Process. The dismissed workers have been staging hunger strikes and other protests at Windy Group factory premises to call for reinstatement.