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Wins for Garment Workers During COVID Downturn

Bangladesh: Bolstered by labour rights training workshops for National Garment Workers Federation delegates during Covid-19, union members from eight factories submitted collective demands to owners to enforce maternity leave provisions, to ensure safe workplaces and protect jobs. These new skills were also used at Masud Apparels to successfully fight off an attempt by the employer to delay an agreed pay rise by seven months. Now the factory workers are receiving this much needed money each month, proving how – under this three month project funded by UnionAID – gains in knowledge and confidence can result in tangible results for poorly paid workers.

Jobs saved in Sri Lanka: In June last year, hundreds of garment workers were plunged into uncertainty when global garment supplier Esquel closed one of its factories due to the impact of Covid-19. After protests, however, 500 jobs were saved when the transfer of jobs to other Esquel factories was negotiated by the Free Trade Zones and General Service Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU). When the end of year bonus was cancelled, the union also successfully had it reinstated for 50% of members. In total under this UnionAID funded project, the FTZ&GSEU represented thousands of workers at 42 factories, dealing with redundancies, unpaid wages and union busting.

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