Trade unions, operating in Bangladesh, claimed to have averted a big industrial disaster after they supported more than 3,000 workers who refused to work in an unsafe building. The building that workers were concerned about was reportedly the 15-storey Ananta Plaza building in Dhaka – home to Ananta Fashion and Ananta Apparels garment factories. It is to be noted that a section of the ground floor of the same building had collapsed earlier this month.
The National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) held a demonstration with factory workers outside the headquarters of Directorate of Inspector General of Factories & Establishment (DIFE), calling officials to force management to shut down the factories until the they are structurally safe. The Government office reportedly complied with workers’ demands and issued a notice directing factory closure and structural remediation.
NGWF also contacted the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to investigate the building. The Accord immediately issued a closure notice and called for urgent structural remediation. After the work was completed, engineers of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and officials of DIFE visited the site and the Accord investigated the safety improvements. After investigation, it was announced safe for human occupancy. Workers returned to the factory the next day after a meeting between the representatives of NGWF, factory union, management, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Accord officials.
Importantly, management too agreed to pay compensation to the workers for the days the factories were shut down.
“Workers’ united actions to win safe working conditions are a major step in the garment industry in Bangladesh. Significantly, factory management, the BGMEA, and the Ministry of Labour recognized building safety as an important issue and quickly responded to workers’ demands. We are thankful to all stakeholders, particularly the Accord, who acted quickly to ensure workers’ safety,” said Amirul Haque Amin, President – NGWF and Chair of Industriall Bangladesh Council