Urge Bangladesh to Let Workers Unionize


Target: Bangladeshi Legislators

Goal: Urge Bangladeshi legislators to support unionization

Bangladeshi lawmakers changed the country’s labor law recently following intense international pressure to improve working conditions for garment workers. Despite officials calling the new labor law a landmark strengthening workers’ protections, several groups said the law made only modest changes and took several steps backward by undercutting unions.

Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, chairman of the parliamentary subcommittee on labor reforms, described the purpose of the new law as a way to strengthen workers’ rights. “I am hoping this will assuage global fears around this issue,” said the chairman, hoping for the United States to re-activate Bangladesh’s trade preferences and for the European Union to not revoke Bangladesh’s trade privileges. But international groups should be aware that this new labor law will not ensure that workers’ rights are strengthened. In fact, this new law makes unionizing harder.

The new law would make unionizing harder because the legislation adds more industrial sectors, including hospitals, where workers would not be allowed to form unions, according to Human Rights Watch. The group also noted that workers in Bangladesh’s important export processing zones would remain legally unable to unionize. Also, the new law states that workers at any factory owned by foreigners or in collaboration with foreigners would be prohibited from striking during the first three years of the operation. The Bangladeshi government will also have to power to stop a strike if the government believes that the strike would cause “serious hardship to the community” or be “prejudicial to the national interest.”

Sign the petition to urge Bangladeshi lawmakers to revise the new labor law to actually ensure that workers’ rights are strengthened. Give workers the power to strike for better working conditions.


Dear Bangladeshi legislators,

Recently, your country has faced intense international scrutiny after the Rana Plaza factory building collapsed, killing 1,129 garment workers. Due to such poor working conditions in your country, the United States has suspended your country’s trade preferences. Furthermore, the European Union has threatened to do the same unless you fix these conditions. Your recently amended labor law does not count as a solution to ensuring better working conditions for your workers.

Your new amended law has certain benefits, but it also has many downfalls. The legislation makes it harder for workers to unionize. Also, you gave yourself the power to shut down any strikes that you deem would cause “serious hardship to the community” or be “prejudicial to the national interest.” The amended labor law will also prohibit workers of foreign companies to strike during the first three years of operation. These provisions do not ensure that workers’ rights are strengthened. We urge you to revise the amended bill to allow workers the right to demand for better working conditions.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: dblackadder via Flickr

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65 Signatures

  • Hermann Kastner
  • James Thrailkill
  • Mal Gaff
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • Nancy Petersen
  • Holly Hall
  • Marianne Oelman
  • Melanie waleski
  • Ricki Newman
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