Trade unionists from around the world celebrated today after international solidarity helped garment workers in Bangladesh win a resounding victory against ‘corporate exploiters.’
United Steelworkers international president Leo Gerard said: ‘The victory for RL Denim workers in Bangladesh – hundreds of young women – is perhaps the biggest victory for workers in the developing world to date.’
In May, the world’s third-largest retailer Metro Group announced that after years of profiting from super-exploitation at the Bangladesh factory, the company was scrapping its orders with the plant, just when the workers were on the verge of winning their legal right to form a union.
At that time, Workers Uniting, the world’s first global union, was joined by the German Verdi union in signing an unprecedented solidarity statement in support of the workers.
Workers Uniting combines the might of the Unite union and the United Steelworkers, which operates in the US, Canada and the Caribbean.
Last week, Metro bosses vowed to immediately return all of its orders to the RL Denim factory and institute changes throughout its supply chain to guarantee that workers’ rights are fully respected.
The Bangladesh National Labour Committee, which uncovered abuses at the factory, reported that Metro Group has recently fired bullying supervisors and has finally started to shell out for overtime and maternity leave.
Workers are now provided with child and health care, purified drinking water and a dining area.
Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley said: ‘Our efforts helped hold a corporate exploiter accountable and showed what’s possible when workers around the world stand together.’