End ‘suppression’ of fledgling unions: US Senator

26 April 2014

UNB, Dhaka :
US Senator Robert Menendez has urged the Bangladesh government and BGMEA to take steps to end the 'suppression' of fledgling unions to help keep 'Made in Bangladesh' brand shining globally.
"If the BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh do not take immediate and concerted steps to end the suppression of fledgling unions, it is only a matter of time before another large-scale tragedy hits Bangladesh's garment industry," he said.
Menendez, also chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in his statement over the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh, said the 'Made in Bangladesh' brand might get tarnished beyond repair if steps not taken.
"The BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh must understand this simple message: Western consumers will not buy clothes that are stained with the blood of Bangladesh's workers," he added.
Without the strong voice of an independent factory union, workers have no mechanism to ensure their own safety, Menendez said, adding, "They cannot make sure that managers keep fire doors shut and stairwells clear, or that cracks in columns and walls are not simply painted over."
The government of Bangladesh, while making progress in the registration of new unions, still lacks the institutional capacity and political will to protect them, Menendez observed.
"This has had a chilling effect on labor organizing in the country. Many workers now fear losing their jobs if they join a union and union organizers rightly fear for their own safety."
One year ago this week, the world's conscience was shocked by the deaths of over 1,130 Bangladeshi garment workers when Rana Plaza, the building which housed their factories, collapsed on top of them.
"For many, the tragedy was a call to action.  The U.S. government has suspended trade benefits for Bangladesh until it takes several concrete steps to improve workers' rights and safety," Menendez mentioned.

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