UnionAID condemns the brutal murder of Shahidul Islam, a union organiser and devoted champion for workers’ rights in Bangladesh’s garment industry. Shahidul served the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF) for 25 years, advocating for better conditions and fair wages.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Shahidul Islam. His loss deeply impacts not only those close to him but also the broader labour rights movement.
Kalpona Akter, the president of BGIWF, said: “Shahidul mobilised thousands of workers to join unions, empowering them to become solid factory-level trade union leaders. Throughout his life, he assisted thousands of workers in receiving arrears and severance pay wrongfully denied by their employers. With workers’ needs always in mind, Shahidul and three other union leaders met on the evening of his death to discuss a peaceful resolution to a wage dispute and the Eid-ul-Azha festival bonus. He met his fate due to the industry’s ill practice to promote yellow unionism for years and the neglect of workers’ voices. This needs to stop. Let our workers be free to organise and join unions. Shahid’s contributions to the labour movement were remarkable and will be sorely missed.”
UnionAID joins calls for the government of Bangladesh to fulfil its duties under international law to protect the right to organise. Furthermore, global brands that source products from factories in Bangladesh must carry out human rights due diligence in their supply chains. These brands should leverage their influence to ensure respect for human rights and international labour standards in both law and practice. There is no excuse for conducting business with entities that do not respect basic rights, such as the right to freedom of association. It is imperative that brands hold their suppliers accountable for upholding workers’ rights.
We, at UnionAID, stand in solidarity with the BGIWF, trade unionists, and human rights defenders across the globe.
Together in sorrow and solidarity, UnionAID