Hannan Knitwear - 3,500 Bangladeshi Garment Workers Have No Rights

May, 19 2016 Share

The Institute's memo to major brands producing at Hannan Knitwear, May 19, 2016:


Hannan Knitwear Ltd, Gazipur, Bangladesh

3,500 Bangladeshi Garment Workers Have No Rights

Hannan Knitwear workers regularly toil seven days a week, 14 hours a day.  Often they are forced to work until 3:00 or even 5:00 a.m., putting in 19 to 21 hours.   They are cheated on their pay.  Verbal and physical abuse is common.  Maternity leave and sick leave denied.

Major Brands
Producing Sweaters at Hannan Knitwear 

  • Selected Homme, Only, Jack & Jones (Bestseller, Denmark)
  • Sfera (El Corte Inglés, Spain); 
  • Esprit, EDC (Esprit, Hong Kong)
  • KappAhl, Sweden


  • Abusive Treatment:  There is a serious problem regarding “nasty behavior” by managers and supervisors.  A production manager, Mr. Wajed, shouts at the workers and calls them filthy names.  Workers are often cursed at and sometimes hit with shoes or lashed with garments.
  • Excessive Hours:  Work is every day, seven days a week, with one day off a month. 

    Overtime runs to 3:00 a.m. –a 19-hour shift—15 to 20 days a month, especially for workers in trimming, mending, finishing, linking and ironing.  The workers we interviewed took an absence to speak with us.  Several of them had worked until 3:00 a.m. the night before.

    In early April, the workers had been working every night until at least 10:00 p.m. and had been told that this would continue for at least the rest of the month.

    When workers toil to 10:00 p.m. they receive a snack (tiffin) of one egg, a piece of bread and a small banana.  When they work until midnight or later, they receive a meal stipend (night bill) of 40 taka (52 cents U.S.)

    Workers told us, “There is huge work pressure now.  The hours are too high.  We get sick.”
  • Cheated on Pay:  The workers are supposedly paid according to production--by piece rate.

    But management never tells them the piece rate ahead of time and also shortchanges them on the amount they produce.  “If I make 1,900 pieces, the company pays only 1,600 or 1,500 pieces.”
  • Maternity Leave Denied:  Workers report that managers and supervisors at Hannan do everything they can not to pay workers’ legal maternity leave.  Pregnant workers are often fired or bullied into resigning.   Bangladeshi law states that a woman has a right to paid maternity leave if she has worked six months at the time of her delivery.  But Hannan management “never gives maternity leave before one full year of employment.”  When maternity leave is paid, it is calculated based on the workers base wage, not her average wage over the last 3 months as the law requires.

    We met with Ms. Kajol Rekha.  She was 6 months pregnant.  One month before, she had worked a 24-hour shift.

    She said, “I know that if I tell the boss I am pregnant, I will be immediately fired.  If management finds out, I will be fired.  Fifteen days ago, I asked to leave at 7:00 p.m.  My boss screamed and shouted at me.  I had to work until 10:00 p.m.”

    On the afternoon of April 25, Ms. Kajol Rekha was asked to resign. She refused.  The following day, she was not allowed to enter the factory.  Factory management has not paid her for the 25 days she worked in April, much less her maternity leave.
  • Attendance Bonus Cut,  Wages Delayed, Sick and Family Leave Denied: Despite the fact that they are working seven days a week and over 100 hours a month in overtime….

    If we are out on a Friday, the attendance bonus [of 400 taka, $5.09 USD] is cut…” “If we work all 30 days of the month, but are 30 minutes late, they cut the attendance bonus.” 

    “If I am sick, they treat me as absent, and cut the attendance bonus.”  “If there is a family emergency, they will treat it as an absence.”

    If a worker is absent, payment of his or her wage will be delayed for 15 to 20 days.

    Workers who are sick for five days may be terminated.

    As part of the hiring process, management demands that new workers sign blank pieces of paper—which can be used later to fabricate a letter of resignation, allowing the company to get rid of a worker without paying severance.
  • Sick Workers Kept in Factory:  Management refuses to give workers sick leave, which is a “huge problem” for the workers.  Workers who fall ill during the work day are not allowed to go home.  Instead, they are held in the factory.  A woman worker recounted:

    Yesterday, I got very sick.  I asked my supervisor and the APM [assistant production manager] to go home.  But they said, ‘No.  You can’t leave the factory.’  My colleagues told the APM, ‘She is sick.  Please let her go.’ But he didn’t listen.  He said to me, ‘If you work, you will get better.  If you die, then we will give you leave.”

    She was kept in the factory until midnight.

    A doctor visits the factory twice a week and writes prescriptions for medicines, which the workers must buy on their own.
  • When Buyers Visit, Workers Coached to Lie:  Workers are told to tell buyers, if they ask:

            * We work no more than 2 hours overtime per day.

            * We never work past 7:00.

            * I left my pay slip at home.”

When buyers or auditors go out on the factory floor, someone from management is always with them.  They usually don’t talk to workers.

“Once a buyer came and talked to some workers at random.  One man told the truth.  The next day, he was fired.  This happened 2 months ago.”

 As we were ending our meeting with the Hannan workers, they told us, “If we can change the factory, all the workers will be happy.  There are many factories like this.  If we can change our factory, other workers will be encouraged too.”