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EU Parliament urged to investigate Bangladesh labor violations

Non-profit organization Clean Clothes Campaign is urging members of the European Parliament to open a trade investigation into labor rights abuses as part of a resolution on Bangladesh which will be debated this Wednesday.

If voted through, the investigation would be carried out by the European Commission in order to assess if the ongoing repressions of trade unions rights in Bangladesh should disqualify the country from having preferential trading terms with the EU. The move comes after a significant increase in violent repressions. Last December saw wage strikes met with mass dismissals, raids on trade union offices and the arrest of over 30 labor leaders. Although an agreement in February 2017 led to the release of the arrested labor leaders, they continue to face charges which include a potential prison sentence. In addition, workers still have not been reinstated following their dismissals in December 2016.

The Clean Clothes Campaign is also concerned with the recent attacks, threats and criminal charges leaders and members of the Bangladesh Industrial and Garment Union Federation (BIGUF) have faced over the last months. Although the European Union response to these events has seen an increase in the level of communication with the Bangladeshi government, it has fallen short of any meaningful action argues the Clean Clothes Campaign.

Bangladesh has been given the deadline of August 2017 to honor its commitments in the field of labour reform and formulate a clear plan of labour law reform, which is set to be implemented by June 2018 by the European Union following the annual review of the Sustainability Compact between Bangladesh, the European Union and the International Labour Organization (ILO). But the Clean Clothes Campaign believes that this is just another deadline Bangladesh will fail to adhere to, as the international community, including the ILO supervisory bodies, have repeatedly stated that the Government of Bangladesh is not willing to guarantee minimum international labor standards and are urging for a stronger and more immediate response.

"The government of Bangladesh has had enough time to carry through the necessary labor reform it committed to so many years ago. The December crackdown and the recent violence show that the situation has in no way improved; to the contrary, it has deteriorated," stated Ben Vanpeperstraete of Clean Clothes Campaign. "It is vital that the European Union starts a clear investigation into whether the Government of Bangladesh is complying with its obligations under the Everything But Arms trade agreement."

Photo: Clean Clothes Campaign, Facebook