MEDIA RELEASE – 19th November 2014
For Immediate Release
RMIT Must Ostracise BGMEA Not Partner Them
A coalition of unions and worker’s rights organisations have condemned the decision of RMIT University to co-host a forum with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Employer Association (BGMEA).
Last week a union delegation visited Bangladesh and met with Garment Workers from many factories, including those manufacturing for Australian brands such as Target, Kmart and Woolworths. That delegation included representatives from Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC), National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), Australia Asia Worker Links (AAWL) and Australia Bangladesh Solidarity Network (ABSN).
The delegation found that despite some improvements in the safety of built structures in Ready Made Garment factories, the general working conditions for garment workers have deteriorated since the Rana Plaza collapse of April 2013.
The BGMEA is universally recognized as campaigning against the workplace rights of garment workers to form unions and apply Western safety standards. The BGMEA played a critical role in organising the release from prison in August 2014 of factory owner Delwar Hossein, who faces charges over the deaths of 130 workers at his factory, Tazreen Fashions. The second anniversary of the factory fire will be marked by a memorial next Monday at VTHC from 12:30pm.
“RMIT's willingness to host a forum in conjunction with the BGMEA about the Bangladeshi garment industry shows an alarming lack of awareness of the nature of the garment industry and the BGMEA.” Said Dr Colin Long, NTEU Victoria Secretary and VTHC President.
“Garment factory owners in Bangladesh are largely ruthless exploiters of their workers, encouraged and abetted by the brand buyers in countries like Australia,” said Dr Long.
“RMIT and Australian companies must be very careful about any association with organisations like BGMEA. Rather, they should actively call for the improvement in labour standards and expeditious trial of Delwar Hossein.”
Dr Colin Long, ABSN, +61 403 920 361
Mr Moniruzzaman Masum, Bangladesh Labour Union Organiser
Josh Cullinan, ABSN, +61 416 241 763