Some major European fashion brands including H&M, Inditex, C&A and Tchibo will skip the Dhaka Apparel Summit scheduled which begins on February 25. The reason: repression of unions in Bangladesh, they have said. All four have said that they will not be attending the Apparel Summit, citing the current climate of repression against unions as incompatible with activities to promote the industry. This was declared in a joint release by IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union from Geneva.
It said that the absence of global brands at the Apparel Summit sends a clear message to the Bangladesh garment industry that so long as workers and trade unionists are being arrested and intimidated for speaking up for the rights of garment workers, there will be no business as usual. Said to be an international event, the Dhaka summit will be inaugurated by Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, two global platforms of labour rights groups, are signatories to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh formed following the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 that killed more than 1,100 apparel workers. Along with two global trade unions, the accord was been signed by over 200 apparel brands, retailers and importers from over 20 countries in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.
Recently, global labour rights groups urged all affiliated trade unions across the world to participate in the campaign sending protest letters to Bangladeshi embassies or directly to the Bangladesh government demanding release of jailed trade union leaders. Responding to the call, trade unionists, workers and NGOs staged protests outside Bangladesh embassies and consulates in over 16 cities, including Berlin, Geneva, London, Brussels, the Hague, Washington DC, New York, Ottawa, Kathmandu, and Seoul, the release said.