In April and May 2023 we welcomed representatives Taslima and Rupali from the union Bangladesh Garment Workers Solidarity to Melbourne for a special solidarity visit, photo exhibition and May Day events in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza murders on the outskirts of Dhaka in Bangladesh.

A full report of the visit can be downloaded here: AAWL – Asia Workers Organising

Taslima and Rupali told us about the special campaign the genuine unions in Bangladesh are fighting for a living wage of 25,000 Bangladeshi Taka per month (about $350AUD).

Since the visit, those genuine unions have run a fantastic campaign but the bosses controlled wages board only proposed a minimum wage of 10,400 Taka per month. Workers took to the streets and this was raised to 12,500 Taka – only half a living wage. Workers and their unions have also been under sustained attack. Since October, five workers have been murdered by the Industrial Police and bosses goons as they strike and protest. Union leaders are being arrested too.

These workers make the clothes we sell and the clothes we wear. We condemn the repression of workers and their unions. We demand Bangladesh immediately lift the minimum wage to 25,000 BDT per month and release all union leaders, including BGWS General Secretary Babul Hossain. We demand every goon, cop and thug responsible for the murder and maiming of workers be held accountable. Babul is pictured in the centre in a brown shirt and is now incarcerated for his action.

Bangladesh has a horrific record when it comes to safety of workers and union officials. That is because our buyers – Kmart, Big W, Best & Less and many others – demand ever lower prices. The blood of workers is on our bosses hands too.

The genuine free trade unions in Bangladesh are campaigning together for this living wage of 25,000 BDT per month. Their letter of action and solidarity on 21 October is here: JOsh for Internation Solidarity 21 October 2023

One of the largest genuine unions for garment workers is the Garment Workers Trade Union Centre which released this statement  on 8 November: Call of GWTUC 08.11.2023

We cannot allow our bosses to continue their gross exploitation of workers of colour throughout the world. We stand united with unions in Bangladesh and share our solidarity.