A year ago, 112 garment workers were killed in a fire at the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory—and a thousand others were injured in the scramble to escape a building with no fire escapes and firmly barred windows.
On April 24, 2012, more than 1,200 garment workers were killed when the multistory Rana Plaza building pancaked in, crushing workers in five factories located in the building.
If these workers, nearly all young women, had been in unions, it’s likely these tragedies could have been prevented.
These disasters—and many more smaller, little-reported workplace tragedies—are why Bangladeshi garment workers are literally organizing for their lives.
Because of the international attention these disasters sparked, workers now can register their unions.
But they are facing intense employer resistance—including physical attacks, threats and termination—and some of these young leaders could benefit from hearing from experienced trade unionists that the fight for a union is worth the struggle.
The workers would be strengthened by international support, knowing they are not alone. To send them a messae of solidarity, please use the sample letter below or write one of your own. Send the completed letter to firstname.lastname@example.org and let these workers know that you stand with them. The Solidarity Center, which has worked for 20 years to help Bangladeshi garment workers gain a voice on the job, will translate and distribute the letter to its union partners, and your message will reach the workers who need to hear it the most.
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
As fellow trade unionists, we are writing in solidarity to commend your bravery and to encourage you to stand together in the face of employer resistance.
Since the tragic Tazreen factory fire in November 2012, you have made great progress in your efforts to organize. Even though ready-made-garment factory owners and the Bangladesh government have placed hurdles and difficulties in your path, you have persevered.
As union members, we know what this struggle is like. We know how hard employers fight to keep the union out, going as far as harassing and firing activists and leaders. Employers will try and turn you against one another.
We know from experience the struggle is worth the difficult journey—the union is the best way for workers to stand up for their rights.
Keep up your amazing effort and find strength in each other. Do not give up! We are with you!