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What’s this about?
In Dhaka (Bangladesh) around 6.000 – mostly unionised – textile workers of the so called “Dragon Sweater factory” are taking to the street. They have been layed off under the pretense of the Corona crisis. At the same time owed wages, compensations and benefits are being held back.
Dragon Sweater supplies textiles to retail businesses like LIDL, NewYorker and Walmart.
The local workers are not giving up. Let’s support them here as well by putting pressure on the retailers and fighting for our common interests.
What happened so far..
Dragon Sweater and Spinning Limited incorporated as a private limited company in Bangladesh. This is the period when many of the experienced workers who have recently been fired entered the workforce.
Dragon Sweater (Dragon Group) becomes a public limited company with
Dragon Group management, in contravention of Bangladesh Labor Law, illegally lays off a majority of workers (around 6,000), citing ‘economic losses’ from the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason. Management terminated the workers without compensating years of back pay and benefits on which many workers depend.
Sidenote: The vast majority of workers were organized in the fighting union Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center (GWTUC) by then. One might assume that union busting was a driving force behind the owners decision to lay off almost everyone.
The Dragon Sweater workers start demonstrating at the factory in Malibag (a district of Dhaka) and in front of the National Press Club to hammer home their demands.
The textile workers lay siege to the Labor Ministry. There is also a siege of the Prime Minister’s office in conjunction with workers from other factories agitating for their wages and benefits.
Dragon Sweater management notices the international attention and reaches out to the International Confederation of Labor (ICL) and Global May Day to justify their behaviour. ICL and GWTUC openly respond.
Among others, the Free Workers Union (FAU) in Hamburg and Freiburg as well as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Hamburg and Bristol hold solidarity rallies in support of the workers. And also the the textile workers in Dhaka take to the streets again.
New Yorker contacts the FAU Hamburg and the GWTUC saying that under these circumstances they will blacklist Dragon Group. However, we are still waiting for a public statement! There has been no meaningful response from Walmart nor Lidl, yet.
The labor union FOB (Brazil) joins the movement.
The ICL working group Asia together with GWTUC and IWW Ireland decide to call for a Global Month of Solidarity with Workers at Dragon Sweater!
#UnitedAgainstTheDragon is born.
The pressure is showing first results. Workers, owners, and the government sit for ongoing tripartite negotiations. However, the owners still reefuse to pay up. They also threaten with moving the entire factory to a different city.
What do workers in Bangladesh have to do with us?
As consumers we an important link in the value-chain. It begins with the harvest on the cotton fields, continues in spinning mills, sewing rooms and dyeing factories and ends after extensive logistic efforts in our wardrobes. The largest profits are made here – where all the things are being sold. Therefore we have the potential to put some pressure on this chain to support the textile workes at Dragon Sweater.
The capitalist system opperates world wide and so there are exploitative conditions everywhere. Sure, the conditions under which we live vary widely, but we all need to sell ourselves to the labour market and offer up our time in engery, just to fulfill the bare necessities; i.e. having access to shelter, buying food for our children or simply being able to go to the doctor. Even though many of us here will be caught by social security systems if need be, these securities are only available to those who submit to certain rules. So in the end we are all in the same boat, no matter whether we are in Hamburg or Dhaka.
And if we collectively refuse to play the game we can change the rules. Let’s not let ourselves be divided! One World – One Struggle!
The Global Month of Solidarity with the Workers at Dragon Sweater is happening between August 15th an September 15th of 2020. It is internationally coordinated. In many regions of the world events are taking place in front of Lidl, New Yorker and Waltmart. You can find out more about what is happening here: