The Solidarity Center’s Bangladesh Worker Rights Defense Fund has received $11,537 in contributions as of June 30 and donations already have assisted with medical bills for union organizers beaten while talking with garment workers and provided a one-month salary for union leaders assaulted and fired by management.
In February, four union organizers, Hashi, Selim, Ali Hossain and Rita, were badly injured when about two dozen people beat, kicked and threw them to the ground as they were speaking to workers in the dormitory where they live. One of the organizers was taken from the scene, beaten severely and dumped, unconscious, nearby. According to several witnesses, the attack was carried out by Chunjee Garments Ltd. factory managers and other men and women.
Your contributions helped pay medical costs for the organizers, two of whom were hospitalized. Donations also replaced the organizers’ mobile phones, which were taken during the attack.
Defense Fund donations have paid for one month’s salary for several union leaders fired in April, including Nazrul Islam, general secretary of Raaj RMG Washing Plant, who was physically assaulted and terminated by the management. Also, five committee members of the Taratex (BD) Ltd., Workers Union each received a one-month salary after factory management fired them. Without your support, they would have been unable to pay their rent.
These examples are just a few ways the Defense Fund has so far provided crucial support to union organizers, enabling them to continue their efforts to help garment workers gain a voice on the job.
The Solidarity Center launched the Bangladesh Worker Rights Defense Fund in April after an increase in violence against union organizers in seeking to improve the safety in some of Bangladesh’s 5,000 garment factories. Following the Rana Plaza collapse in April 2013, and other high-profile catastrophes, the government showed signs of recognizing worker rights and its own labor laws, allowing workers to form their own unions. As a result, garment workers have registered more than 130 factory-level unions in the past year.
But violence and retaliation in recent months against workers seeking to exercise freedom of association has gone unpunished.
It’s not too late to contribute to the Bangladesh Worker Rights Defense Fund and help the brave women and men who often risk their personal safety to improve the safety of garment workers.