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June 01, 2006

Workers' protests in Bangladesh today

CCC was in the midst of preparing a public campaign on the A-one case,
when the news of the extensive protests in Bangladesh, starting May 19,
reached us. A-One is one of the factories that was attacked by the
workers, destroying the canteen and part of the building. We feel it is
important to make it clear that throughout the many months following
their dismissal, despite receiving many threats and being subjected to
outright acts of repression, the dismissed A-one workers maintained a
peaceful and constructive attitude, ready to meet with management, buyer
representatives and others and to provide detailed information and
evidence and they've always stated that they wanted to be reinstated.
This attitude stands in marked contrast to the one of A-One management
and of the EPZ authorities (see below for more details). Today, June
1st, workers reportedly clashed with A-One management during protests in
the zone. See: link

Push European/US buyers, management at A-One factory to respect workers'
rights and reinstate workers

Dear friends,

We are contacting you today to ask your support for the workers who were
dismissed , terminated and forcefully removed in September 2005 from the
Korean owned A-One factory in the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in
Bangladesh. The A-one case is even more urgent in the light of recent
workers’ protests in Bangladesh, highlighting the desperate situation of
workers in general in the Bangladeshi garment industry, protests which
also extended to the A-One factory. It shows how the legal system,
local authorities (BEPZA) and factory owners block attempts to improve
working conditions. Please find some time to take action, both on behalf
of the A-one workers and Bangladeshi garment workers in general.

We describe below the events thus far in the A-One case in some detail,
hoping it will serve as a wake-up call and important case study to all
those companies sourcing from the Bangladeshi zones. Ultimately, this
case is about freedom of association and the rule of law in Bangladesh.
Legal workers’ representatives, honestly elected under the law, rules
and regulations set out by the Government of Bangladesh and its Export
Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA), were terminated in unlawful fashion.
If this is allowed to happen without consequences, it has implications
not just for this case, but for the implementation of the law in other
cases in the EPZ and outside the Zones. It also casts serious doubts on
the credibility of brands’ codes of conduct, which call for full
compliance with the ILO conventions on freedom of association,
collective bargaining and worker representation.

Who is involved?

In February 2005 the workers at A-one elected a 15-person Workers
Representation and Welfare Committee, as is their legal right under the
EPZ Workers Association and Industrial Relations Act of 2004 . The
Workers Representation and Welfare Committee (WRWC) was certified by the
Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA) on April 4, 2005 and
raised outstanding issues with management on July 4, 2005. On August 18,
A-One management agreed to act on 12 of the 13 demands that had been
discussed. Then the A-One management’s real agenda became clear. In
mid-September, management started to illegally dismiss workers and WRWC
members. On September 10, 47 workers were terminated and 9 WRWC members
received death threats to force them to resign; On September 11, 80
workers were terminated and on October 1, a further 119 workers. Factory
management did not pay the dues owed to the dismissed workers, instead
some workers were paid a certain amount in cash (less than total amounts

Early October 2005 The WRWC asked CCC to contact the buyers as well as
the Bangladeshi authorities, including the BEPZA and the BEPZIA
(Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Investors Association). They are
supported by the National Garment Workers Federation NGWF, Bangladesh
Independent Garment Union Federation BIGUF and the Bangladesh Center for
Worker Solidarity and by the Solidarity Center Bangladesh.

The demands formulated by the workers were the following:
- reinstate the 255 workers with back pay
- cease all forms of intimidation of the WRWC and workers who support
the WRWC
- investigate reports of abusive treatment of personnel by management
- management must negotiate in good faith with WRWC representatives

CCC contacted the buyers of A-One: the German companies Tchibo and
Miles, the Italian companies COIN and Tessival (a supplier of the
Italian based COIN) and the Dutch company C&A. These buyers were also
approached by the American National Labor Committee (NLC). The
Solidarity Center contacted the US based Target (AMC). CCC also wrote to
A-One itself, BEPZA, BEPZIA and various governmental authorities. The
WRWC also wrote letters to the buyers, A-One management and the BEPZA
Management, who refused their invitation to meet.

Since then, CCC Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the CCC International
Secretariat, as well as other groups have been in touch regularly with
the various buyers resulting in a series of meetings between A-One
management, some of the buyers, the workers, the unions supporting them
and the ITGLWF. Though some of the buyers (notably Tchibo) made an
effort, and officially requested A-One to reinstate all dismissed,
terminated and ‘voluntary’ resigned workers ( while making it clear
refusal to do this would have negative consequences for future orders,
and meeting the request would result in A-One being put on a priority
list for future orders) the main demands themselves have to date not
been met.

To go directly to the action request go to:

Posted by cat at 12:41 PM