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The AAFA has written to Bangladesh’s Prime Minister with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA)’s president Faruque Hassan included to insist urgent action is taken regarding workers rights in the country.

The AAFA’s president Stephen Lamar, who represents a 1,000 fashion and footwear companies and their suppliers which compete in the global market, uses the letter to express his shock and horror at the recent grievous murder of garment union leader Shahidul Islam.

The letter states: “His killing is not only an immeasurable loss for his family and friends but also represents a setback for workers’ rights and the overall welfare of workers in Bangladesh.

“We join the US Government in calling for the pursuit of justice to hold accountable those responsible for his death and to send a strong message that such heinous acts will not be tolerated.”

The AAFA praises the favourable relationship between the two nations that brought shared prosperity and economic growth and Bangladesh’s commendable sustainability efforts, with an impressive count of 52 out of the top 100 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-rated factories.

However, the letter continues that Islam’s death is the worst case in what it describes as “a series of growing attacks against unions from violent assaults against labour leaders to delays and denials of registration for new unions.”

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Stressing the importance of freedom of association for safeguarding workers’ rights and ensuring proper working conditions, the AAFA urges the Bangladesh Government to continue constructive dialogue with unions, facilitate new union registration, and condemn any form of violence or intimidation against workers.

One issue the AAFA is closely monitoring is the current minimum wage review in Bangladesh.

The AAFA describes it as a “crucial opportunity to address existing disparities and to establish fair remuneration for garment workers.”

The AAFA calls on on the wage board committee to actively engage “true worker representatives, labour unions, and all relevant stakeholders” to ensure an atmosphere of open dialogue and inclusivity.

The AAFA hopes the final increased minimum wage agreed will reflect the “severe economic challenges that garment workers have faced over the pandemic, the subsequent supply chain crisis, and the current state of the Bangladesh economy”.

The Bangladesh Government and BGMEA had not responded to Just Style’s request for comment at the time of going to press.

In a recent report, Bangladesh clothing manufacturers are seeking apparel export revenue in non-traditional markets such as Brazil, India, Japan and South Korea.