701 workers have been laid off without any prior information at SF Denim Apparels in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as they came back after the Eid holiday.
As workers returned to the factory after Eid vacation on 18 August, SF Denim Apparels cited ‘work order shortage’ and announced one of the largest terminations in Bangladeshi garment factories in recent times.
At least half of the 701 workers just fired wanted to form a trade union under the leadership of IndustriALL affiliate Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation (SGSF).
According to unions, SF Denim Apparels has consistently been obstructing efforts to organize and form a union.
In response to efforts to form a union in 2018 the company fired more than a hundred workers. 38 of the workers launched court cases against the employer, which are still ongoing.
The practice is continuing; in early August, days before the Eid vacation, five workers involved in union organizing were laid off.
Nazma Akter, IndustriALL Executive Committee member and SGSF president says:
“We are deeply concerned over the mass layoffs; the workers are obviously targeted over their involvement in union activities. To make matters worse, more than 30 of the terminated workers are pregnant and will now not receive any maternity benefits. We demand that SF Denim Apparels reinstate all the fired workers.”
SGSF has contacted brands that source from SF Denim, like C&A, H&M and Benetton, seeking their intervention to reinstate the terminated workers, but the union has yet to receive a response from them.