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More than 1,500 Bangladesh Factory Workers on Hunger Strike

More than 1,500 employees of apparel manufacturer Tuba Group in Dhaka, Bangladesh, have gone on a hunger strike. The strike began on July 28 and is planned to continue until the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) addresses the employees’ five-point agenda. The protesters come from five of the group’s factories. At least 122 strikers have fallen ill.

Government officials met with members of the Tuba Group Workers Movement and the Tuba Group on Sunday to discuss a resolution, however, talks resulted in a standoff, and the BGMEA’s call to end the strike was rejected.

The striking employees are demanding full payment of wages, overtime, and bonuses for May, June and July, compensation for ill workers and better job security, bdnews24.com reported. Workers are also calling for the death penalty for Tuba Group managing director Delwar Hossain, who is imprisoned for the death of 112 workers killed in the Tuba-owned Tazreen Fashion fire in 2012, as well as the compensation for those who died.

Garment workers claim that the group owners are delaying payment of their wages to press for Hossain’s release. Tuba Group Workers Movement committee coordinator Moshrefa Mishu told bdnews24.com, “The hunger strike will continue until all workers of the Tuba Group get their wages, bonuses, overtime dues and allowances.”

In a press conference, BGMEA acting president AM Mannan Kochi, said, “Starting from 10 a.m. on Wednesday two months’ salary will be given to the workers at the BGMEA Bhaban. The rest will be paid by the owner within Aug 10.”

In response, the protesting workers reaffirmed that they would not accept any agreement less than three months wage, holiday bonuses and a one-month allowance for overtime. Mishu said to bdnews24.com, “The BGMEA seems to be joking. But the workers are in no mood to enjoy a joke. The payment of dues is a must. Otherwise, we will continue our movement till death.”