BGMEA responds to CCC’s Facebook posts

The BGMEA has taken note of Clean Clothes Campaign’s social media posts and would like to clarify a few points:

One post states that last year saw a minimum wage hike in the RMG sector after five years but stresses that “It was HALF of what workers asked for.” And when they peacefully protested, “they were dismissed, blacklisted, arrested.” The post of December 27 ends with urging everyone to take action in this regard.

Another post said workers resumed protests for higher wages, one year ago and does on to suggest this protest was the reason that “they faced violence, dismissals & legal charges. Over 30 factories charged 100s of workers and many of them still live in fear” and ends with an urge to take action against this supposed crackdown.

The Facebook posts do not contain any data but is part of an ill-directed, perception based propaganda.

The workers’ minimum wages (grade 7, which is incidentally never a take home salary for any worker) have been increased to BDT 8,000 ($94.19) with the wage commission constituted of factory owners, workers and the government. Perhaps the campaigners are not properly aware of the negotiation — an exercise that is almost like a keystone in business and commerce. Workers deserve more wages and buyers want a quarter of our prices. People almost never get what they ask for.

BGMEA has already explained the accusation of dismissing workers and filing charges against them. But that seems to have gone unnoticed.

Detailed reports and statistics prepared by the BGMEA, put the number of terminated workers well below 4,000 in an industry involving 4.4 million workers — less than 0.1 percent of the total workforce.

Regarding the cases filed against workers for protesting in 2018, the BGMEA had discussions with unions that claimed, without providing names or ID cards, that 12,000 workers had been terminated from 104 factories. The BGMEA has thoroughly investigated the claims and found that 91 factories were involved in dismissing workers and of them 12 were not members of the association. The 79 factories that are part of the BGMEA were called in on August 29 and September 1 of 2019 for resolving the cases.

Detailed discussions revealed that 37 out of 79 factories were involved in dismissing workers, of which 15 factories dismissed 2,298 workers without filing any cases and 22 terminated 1,664 jobs and filed cases. In total, 30 cases were filed — 27 of them related to minimum wage protests. Till now, 10 cases have been withdrawn and the remaining 17 are in the process of being withdrawn.

The CCC has no office in Bangladesh and therefore, it is very much possible that the information they collect from secondary sources are not fact based. The BGMEA urges CCC to dedicate sufficient time to verify and cross check its data. How the CCC chooses to conduct its campaign is its own business but the BGMEA would urge that they allow us to present the reality that actually exists in Bangladesh.

Rather, the Clean Clothes Campaign could kindly divert a part of its efforts to increase prices of garment products to allow factory owners pay more. Despite the heavy expenses in the form of safety measures that most owners shouldered after the Rana plaza tragedy, no single buyer has increased their prices. Instead, many of them are forcing a reduction.

The BGMEA hopes the CCC will continue to champion labour rights with the right kind of information and data for which our doors are always open. The BGMEA would also be delighted to provide comments and answer questions for articles and stories — an opportunity that would actually benefit CCC and the industry both as that would most realistically raise the chances for the workers to have better lives, a focus that all brands, trade unions, activists and manufacturers must never lose sight of.