Take Action: Support Garment Workers in Bangladesh

May 14, 2013, 10:00 AM EST

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The CAW has responded to global labour federation IndustriALL's call for solidarity contributions for the humanitarian relief effort for victims of the Rana Plaza tragedy with a donation of $25,000.

On April 24 an eight-story building housing five textile factories collapsed in Bangladesh killing over 1,100 garment workers. With labour laws which require workers to request permission to form a union, less than 1 per cent of the 3.6 million garment workers in the country are unionized. The minimum wage for these workers is $38 per month.

In response to this travesty, labour activists across the world are called for immediate action to raise working conditions and allow garment workers to join a union. In response to international pressure, the government of Bangladesh has agreed to allow garment workers to form trade unions without permission from factory owners and announced a plan to raise the minimum wage for garment workers.

Canadians were outraged to learn that companies such as Joe Fresh, The Children's Place, Mango and Benetton were among the retailers who used garment factories in the collapsed building. The Canadian Labour Congress is calling on the Retail Council of Canada and its member organizations to immediately pull products from their shelves where countries and companies are in violation of ILO labour conventions.

A statement released by the CLC urges the Retail Council of Canada and its members to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement with the global unions IndustriALL and UNI and Bangladeshi unions: "a binding agreement in which retailers ensure rigorous and independent third party factory inspections, transparency and oversight of their overseas suppliers, and ensures that workers and their organizations are an integral part of the solution."

The international pressure of over one million people signing multiple on-line petitions that call on brands sourcing from Bangladesh resulted with at least 24 garment and retail brands (including Loblaws  Company Ltd. - owners of Joe Fresh) signing  on to the accord by the deadline of May 15th.

But the fight is not over.  There still are North American retailers and brands like Gap Inc. and Wal-Mart, who have actively opposed any binding commitments in Bangladesh even while the body count in Bangladeshi factories mounts.

Take action and show solidarity with these workers by sending a message to Bangladesh's Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and Employment and by signing petitions urging brands to sign the agreement: http://en.maquilasolidarity.org/node/1123

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