As this daily reported yesterday, 23 workers of a garment factory in Ashulia were suspended on charges of vandalism and theft, which the workers claim are false. They had also been blacklisted so that they do not get jobs in other factories in the area. This is outrageous.
A large number of garment workers lost their jobs because they had demanded a new wage board with a minimum monthly pay of Tk 16,000 in recent months. According to our report, about 400 workers lost their jobs in December and January in eight garment units of Ashulia. And as per the IndustryALL Bangladesh Council, a national coordinating body of IndustryALL Global Union, which works to ensure better working environment and trade union rights, more than 11,600 workers in over 100 factories lost their jobs across the country following the recent wave of protests. The workers of this particular factory in Ashulia have alleged that those who were suspended were active in trade union activities, advocating for their rights.
We do not understand how an employer can blacklist his or her workers when the law does not allow this. Also, if a worker must be punished for any alleged unlawful activity, there is a process that must be followed. According to Bangladesh Labour Act 2006, an employer can only take disciplinary action against a worker if the allegation is proven to be true. And to investigate the allegations, a probe committee with equal representation from workers and employers should be formed. But before doing all this, the owner has to issue a show-cause notice and the workers should get seven days to respond to it. Apparently, none of these steps have been followed by this factory owner. Also, blacklisting workers for being vocal about trade union activities and rights issues is totally unacceptable. The factories cannot penalise their workers for raising their rightful demands. They should give the workers a chance to defend themselves should any allegations arise. The BGMEA should also address this issue giving it due importance.