AAFA president and CEO Stephen Lamar is seeking the withdrawal of these threats and detentions while advocating for accountability for the violence during the protests that resulted in deaths and injuries.

Lamar expressed deep concern to BGMEA president Faruque Hassan over the current situation regarding the detainment of workers and the filing of criminal charges against labour organisers, such as Jewel Miya, who was advocating for higher wages.

The AAFA, which represents the interests of US apparel, footwear, and other sewn products companies and their suppliers, urged the BGMEA to join its calls for the release of all workers arrested during the protests and the withdrawal of criminal charges against them.

Additionally, the association appeals for the removal of all First Information Reports against workers and the prevention of future harassment of those engaged in minimum wage protests.

He said: “I urge BGMEA to call on the government to investigate, and hold to account, those responsible for the violence that led to the deaths and injuries of workers during the protests.”

The garment worker wage protests in November 2023 resulted in the death of at least four workers.

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Highlighting the importance of Bangladesh as the third-largest supplier of garments globally and an emerging supplier of footwear and travel goods to the US, the AAFA underscored the favourable relationship between the two nations in terms of prosperity, economic growth, and collaboration.

With over 1,000 renowned brands under its umbrella and a significant contribution to the US economy, Lamar described the AAFA as having a “political voice” in advocating for the apparel and footwear industry.

He expressed gratitude for the BGMEA’s attention on “these pressing matters” and said he remained “hopeful” that the BGMEA’s president, along with the wider Bangladesh garment industry, would continue to make significant strides to ensure worker welfare.

Lamar added: “In turn, these efforts will only strengthen and grow our mutually beneficial partnership.”

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

According to reports made on 12 March the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Sub-Council of Textile Industry, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) are allegedly exploring ways of working together.