The US Department of Labor has issued a call to the Bangladeshi government to halt the violent crackdown on protesting garment workers and conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged involvement of the police in the deaths of two workers.
The move comes as tensions escalate amidst ongoing demonstrations by garment workers demanding increased wages.
In a statement released on the 8th of November, Thea Lee, the Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs at the Department, expressed deep concern regarding the mounting violence and the crackdown on Ready-Made Garment (RMG) workers and trade union members.
The garment workers have been engaging in days of protests, with their primary demand being a minimum wage increase. Despite a recent government-appointed panel decision to raise the minimum monthly wage to Tk12,500, workers are adamant about receiving Tk20,393.
The labor conditions are notably grim for the approximately four million workers in this sector, the majority of whom are women. Their monthly earnings commence at a mere 8,300 taka ($75).
The Department unequivocally condemned the alleged police shootings of Rasel Howlader and Anjuara Khatun, two workers who tragically lost their lives during the protests.
The US Department of Labor demanded the immediate release of Jewel Miya, a labor organizer affiliated with the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation, who was arrested in connection with the protests.
The Department emphasized the need for the Bangladeshi government to reevaluate the recent minimum wage decision, ensuring that it provides fair compensation that meets the needs of workers and their families.
In a bid to prevent future unrest, the US Department of Labor urged the amendment of existing labor laws, guaranteeing that all workers can fully exercise their right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, as advocated by the International Labor Organization.