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Death Threats against Labor Leaders--Rosita and Megatex Sweatshops Bangladesh

March, 09 2012 Share

 

Rosita and Megatex Sweatshops
Bangladesh

UPDATEMarch 9, 2012

Death Threats against Labor Leaders

 

Conditions are moving from bad to worse at Chinese-owned Rosita and Megatex sweater factories in the Ishwardi Export Processing Zone in North Bengal, Bangladesh.  The factories are militarized and occupied by the Rapid Action Police Battalion.

The nearly 300 illegally fired workers continue to press for reinstatement but are blocked from entering the Export Processing Zone.

The Presidents and General Secretaries of the Workers Welfare Associations at both Rosita and Megatex were called to a meeting by the industrial relations manager of the plants, Mr. Mesbaul, on February 25.  It was a trick.  The labor leaders were immediately taken to a guard room where they were forced at gunpoint by police to sign resignation letters.  Police told the labor leaders, "Sign here or face death."

To date, 14 elected labor leaders from the two Workers Welfare Associations have been fired from Rosita and Megatex.  The situation at both factories is very tense.  The remaining elected labor officers are frightened for their lives.

After two weeks in prison, Mr. Helal, the President of the Rosita Workers Welfare Association, was finally released on bail on February 20.  The following day, on February 21 at 10:30 p.m., a Chinese administrative manager, Mr. Hunter Leo, filed another false charge against Mr. Helal at the Ishwardi Police Station (Case # 29/66).  Mr. Helal, who could be imprisoned again at any moment on trumped-up charges, has gone into hiding.  All 5,000 members at Rosita and Megatex have tremendous trust and respect for Mr. Helal.  If Mr. Helal is again imprisoned on false charges or harmed in any way, there will be an overwhelming reaction from the workers.

The factories are again operating full steam ahead, from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

And, yes, all 5,000 workers continue to be illegally cheated of both their legal minimum wage and their proper overtime pay.

The labels sourcing production at the Rosita and Megatex sweatshops must immediately intervene to end the militarization, reinstate the fired workers and bring the Chinese management into compliance with Bangladeshi labor laws and the core ILO labor rights standards.

 

The Rosita and Megatex scam:
cheating some of the hardest working yet poorest workers in the world
 

 

Here's how it operates, in broad daylight:

First, 95 percent of the workers at the Rosita and Megatex factories are classified as "Grade 2" "Junior Operators."  Even if a skilled worker has been toiling at one of these factories for the last 3 ½ years, or for that matter if they have five, ten or fifteen years' experience working in other sweater or garments plants, they are still categorized as "junior operators."

Secondly, management is cheating these "junior operators" by paying them below the legal rate.  The Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) has set the wage-as of November 1, 2010-at $55 (U.S.) per month.

Minimum Wage for Junior Operators

26 cents an hour
$2.12 a day (8 hours)
$12.69 a week (48 hours)
$55.00 a month
$660 a year

The BEPZA rules are unequivocal.  The workers must be paid the U.S. dollar equivalent according to the current exchange rate in Bangladeshi taka.  Since the current exchange rate is 82 BDT to 1 USD, the junior operators should be paid $55 a month, or 4,510 Taka.

However, the vast majority of "junior operators" at the Rosita and Megatex factories are being paid just 4086 Taka.  This means that the workers are being routinely cheated of 424 Taka a month-$$5.17.  This means that the workers are being cheated of nearly two-and-a-half days' wages each month.

Cheating some of the poorest workers in the world can add up.  The workers are shortchanged of $5.17 a month and $62.04 a year.  Multiply this by 5,000 workers and you get $310,200 stolen in one year.  And, as our report details, the workers are also shortchanged on their overtime pay and other legally mandated benefits that exceed well over a million dollars a year!

The labels must crack down on such obvious violations.

 

 


[Campaign] Chinese Sweatshop in Bangladesh