Bangladesh Garment Shramik Sanghati (BGSS) held a protest at the capital’s press club on Friday, demanding the release of the organisation’s General Secretary Babul Hossain, withdrawal of false cases and arrests, and reconsideration of declared wages.
Probir Shaha, organising secretary of BGSS moderated the programme with President Taslima Akter as the chief speaker.
Taslima, during her speech, said that Babul Hossain was arrested on the evening of November 14 and sent to jail after 20 hours on charges of vandalism in a case filed against anonymous bodies.
“Not only Babul but many workers have been arrested. The owners will threaten to suppress the movement but we have to counter this fear,” Taslima said. “We have been asking for Tk 25,000 for a year but they announced the wages to be Tk 12,500. When we took to the streets, they continued to sue, attack and arrest with false accusations of arson and vandalism.”
“Anjuara, Rasel and Imran were shot dead. What is their crime? What is our crime? We are only demanding a livable wage for the workers. The owners are looking for a political agenda in our movement. But there is politics in everything. The workers have the constitutional right to protest, to demand a livable wage,” she further added.
Taslima also demanded justice for the workers killed during protests.
US unveils new visa policy to protect labour rights
Meanwhile, the United States has announced a new visa policy including sanctions, trade penalties and visa restrictions for those who threaten, intimidate or attack union leaders, labour rights defenders and labour organisations.
Presenting the strategy in front of union members at a San Francisco hotel on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken credited US diplomacy as having real results on labour rights, pointing as an example to Bangladeshi garment workers who faced threats until US intervention.
"We will work to hold accountable those who threaten, who intimidate, who attack union leaders, labour rights defenders, labour organisations – including using things like sanctions, trade penalties, visa restrictions – all the tools in our kit," said Blinken.