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Companies Canceling Orders, Adding to Job Loss, Unpaid Wages

  (London) – Apparel brands’ business practices in response to COVID-19 are exacerbating the economic plight of millions of garment workers in Asia, Human Rights Watch said today. Scores of clothing brands and retailers have canceled…
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Time will tell whether Bangladesh’s garment industry has its Wonder Woman. Last month, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) elected its first female president: Rubana Huq, managing director of the Mohammadi Group.…
Bangladeshi garment workers shout slogans during a protest in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Thousands
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Time and Cost-Cutting Pressures Are Incentives for Labor Abuses

(London) – Clothing and footwear brands should end business practices that provide incentives for factory labor abuses, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 66-page report, “‘Paying for a Bus Ticket and Expecting to…
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  Summary Soon after the Rana Plaza collapsed in 2013 in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing over a thousand workers, a top official from a global brand flew into Pakistan.[1] His sudden trip was sparked by the desperation to make up…
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Unions Claim at Least 7,500 Dismissed Arbitrarily From Work, Others Targeted in Violent Police Raid

(New York) – Bangladesh authorities should immediately investigate garment worker and union leader allegations of arbitrary dismissals and false criminal cases following a recent protest demanding a wage hike, Human Rights Watch said…
Bangladesh police chase protesting garment workers in Savar, outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, January 9, 2019.
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  Sexual Harassment in Garment Factories Eleven women garment workers from a factory in southern India sent a hand-written letter to a local union in late 2016.[1] They wrote: “The plight of women workers … we don’t have anyone who would…
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“We don’t want another Rana Plaza.” Those were the parting words when I spoke with a Bangladeshi garment worker who miraculously survived the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013. The building housed five garment factories employing…
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A crash in slow motion—it’s the only way one can describe the looming economic fallout should Bangladesh refuse to extend the Accord on Fire and Building Safety. In just one week’s time the Bangladesh government may force this landmark agreement to stop…
Bangladesh police stand guard in front of garment factories in Ashulia on December 26, 2016, when factories re-opened after a five-day shut down in response to garment workers’ wage strikes.
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This spring marks a solemn milestone. More than five years have passed since a series of deadly fire and building accidents in Pakistan and Bangladesh together killed more than 1,500 workers and injured thousands more. In the aftermath of these…
Women work in the sewing division of a factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital.
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How Unions Help Workers Worldwide

How can a mango craving spiral into a labor dispute? I was talking with garment workers in Cambodia when I heard the mango story. A pregnant garment worker had been caught sneaking mangoes into the factory despite a rule forbidding food…
Garment workers take part in a May Day demonstration in Phnom Penh, Cambodia May 1, 2017.
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Bangladesh’s Garment Workers Still Need Better Protection

Five years ago, the world watched in horror when an eight-story building collapsed in Bangladesh, trapping and killing over 1,100 people employed by garment factories. Rescue workers struggled valiantly for days to save lives, but for most, it was…
Relatives of victims killed in Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013, mourn at the site during the fourth anniversary of the collapse in Savar, on the outskirt of Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
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Every year on April 24, I browse through a poignant online memorial for garment workers who died in 2013 in the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. The website is a collection of national IDs, passport-size and other photos—a man posing…
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“Whore.... Do you think this is a brothel? You must meet the production demand here. If you want to continue to work here, listen to us.” This nasty threat is a snapshot of the harassment that supervisors and managers heap on many Bangladeshi…
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Expulsions, Murder, Rape, Persecution of Rohingya

(New York) – Burmese security forces are committing crimes against humanity against the Rohingya population in Burma, Human Rights Watch said today. The military has committed forced deportation, murder, rape, and persecution against…
Rohingya refugees shortly after arrival in Bangladesh.
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Government Should Publish Reports on Factories it Inspects

A fire in Ideal Textile Mills in Bangladesh killed at least six workers this week, reportedly after sparks from welding set ablaze inflammable chemicals stored close by. Soon, the blame game will begin. Perhaps there’ll be a…
In September 2016, another factory burned in the same district. Here, firefighters stand at the site of a fire at a packaging factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, September 10, 2016.
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Summary My brother asked, “Can I have your identity? What is your force? Are you RAB, CID, DB?” They did not identify themselves. He asked several times. They did not wear any uniform and they had no legal arrest warrant. Nothing. They just said, “…
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Companies Pressed to Provide More Information About Suppliers

“Sometimes I just can’t sleep without pills. I keep remembering how many people died that day.” Shabana, her name changed to protect her privacy, survived three days buried in the rubble of Rana Plaza, an eight-story building with…