News publication Reuters has claimed that between 1,000 to 5,000 Bangladesh garment workers have either been dismissed or have gone into hiding for fear of arrest since the higher wages protests in October.

Reuters attributed the figures to three labour three labour unions, namely the Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation, National Garment Workers Federation, and the Bangladesh Garments Workers Unity Council.

The three unions did not respond to Just Style’s request for comment at the time of going to press and neither did the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

However, BGMEA president Faruque Hassan allegedly told Reuters the industry body was not aware of any retrenchments and it would act if “any such incidents are brought to our notice”.

Delowar Hossin, a garment worker formerly employed by Bangladesh brand Ducati Apparels, allegedly told Reuters he was fired in December without any explanation or receipt of severance dues.

Hossin, who currently works part-time as a mason, told the publication he was barred from entering the factory premises.

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Contrary to Hossin’s account, Ducati’s managing director, Khayer Mia, told Reuters that no workers had been sacked.

Mia said that some 15 to 20 workers had vandalised the factory during the protests, but Ducati still honoured its commitment to paying full salaries to all workers, despite the protests leading to the factory being shut down for 10 days.

“I love my workers and factory like my family,” Mia told the publication.

Ducati Apparels had not responded to Just Style’s request for comment at the time of going to press.

The garment worker wage protests, which coincided with broader political demonstrations ahead of the country’s 7 January general election, resulted in the tragic death of four workers and injuries to numerous others.

Fashion brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, GAP, Levi Strauss, Puma, PVH and Under Armour strongly urged Bangladesh’s Government in October to ensure there would be no retaliation against workers seeking fair wages before or after the review.

In November the Bangladesh Government agreed to raise the minimum wage to Tk12,500 ($112.8) per month.

However, labour activists argued this increase was still insufficient to meet the basic needs of workers criticising the disparity between the wage hike and the rising cost of living.

Last month (December) Miran Ali, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told a delegation at the UK’s House of Lords that Bangladesh should be ‘proud’ of its recent wage rise and ‘unbeatable’ global sustainable fashion status.