Seven leaders of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and Garment Worker Trade Union (GWTUC) were sent to jail on 1st April, 2018 afternoon when they surrendered at CMM court, Dhaka, after finishing the bail period granted by the High Court, related to a case filed by the association of garments factory owners.
Arrested leaders are, central secretariat member of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and General Secretary of Garment Worker Trade Union Center (GWTUC) comrade Joly Talukder, central committee member of CPB and GWTUC comrade Sadekur Rahman Shamim, Organising Secretary of GWTUC comrade K.M. Mintu, International Affairs Secretary of GWTUC Monzur Moin, General Secretary of the Gazipur District GWTUC Jalal Hawlader, Executive President of the Ashulia Reagion GWTUC Lutfar Rahman Akash, Organizing Secretary of the Ashulia Region GWTUC Mohammad Shahjahan. In the same police case, 2 workers of the factory were arrested on last February by the police and still they are in jail. Moreover, 30 workers of Ashiana Garments were also terminated from the factory.
On May, 2017 the workers of the factory formed a trade union. Afterward they filed an application for recognition the union at the office of the Register of the Trade Unions. The Register of the Trade Unions rejected the application with irrational ground. Since then a serious attempt to dismiss the leading workers was continuing. Several complaints have been filed regarding this matter at two institutions operating under the Labor Ministry. In spite of such efforts, on 29 January, this year, when a worker was illegally dismissed, factory workers rose up in protest. The next day, when the owners closed down the factory illegally, there was widespread labor unrest.
On 31st January, Workers and the GWTUC leaders went to the BGMEA (association of garments factory owners) building in Dhaka, as part of a tri-party meeting scheduled to take place with the workers of the Ashiana Garment and the government authorities regarding the issue of labor and Owners. Even as the workers, attending the meeting, gathered in front of the BGMEA building peacefully, BGMEA employees were attempting to provoke the workers. At 11am, when the BGMEA employees informed the workers that the meeting would not take place, the workers continued to wait. At one point, when the workers decided to peacefully hold a protest, they were attacked by the employees, led by BGMEA Senior Additional Secretary Mansur Khaled. At this point, the workers’ microphone and banner were seized. After this point, over a hundred people, armed with iron rods and sticks came from inside the building to attack the workers. They also vandalized the rickshaw, carrying the workers’ flags and microphones. BGMEA officers and employees swooped down and attacked the workers and leaders. Over a hundred workers and senior-most leaders of the Garments Workers’ Trade Union Centre were injured in the attack. 37 people were seriously injured and later received treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Instead of accepting the demand for justice against those who responsible for the attacks, the BGMEA filed false cases against the injured workers and leaders. Cases filed by the BGMEA against GWTUC leaders and more than 150 workers were completely false and purposefully motivated. Even where only three leaders of GWTUC were present that time, they mentioned 12 names in the case. Due to influence of factory owners police noted false charges against innocent workers They completely failed to provide any evidence in support of their allegations against the workers.
Communist Party of Bangladesh strongly condemns and protests the arrest of garment workers leaders. Recently, a national wage board has been formed for increasing workers’ wages and GWTUC organized several processions demanding minimum wage of 16000 Taka (193 USD approx.) per month. It is understood that the attack and arrest of leaders are preplanned and it is an ill move to derail negotiations over increasing the wage. CPB call for immediate unconditional release of GWTUC leaders and workers. At the same time, CPB also demand exemplary punishment against those responsible for the attack on workers, withdrawal of the false police cases and unjust dismissals of workers. CPB also demands to take necessary steps for building a democratic environment in the industrial sector through the implementation of trade union rights.
In spite of the arrest of senior central leaders, CPB and GWTUC are continuing their struggle for the deserved minimum wage for Garment workers. In this context, CPB calls for international solidarity from its fraternal organizations which can help them to win over this battle against barbaric oppression by the ruling class of Bangladesh.