Bangladesh is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people

No guarantee of rights (?)

Country score is the same as last year.

For years, Bangladeshi workers have faced severe state repression, including violent crackdowns on peaceful protests by the notorious Industrial Police, and intimidation aimed at preventing the formation of unions.

In 2023, several workers in the dominant garment sector were killed by police during protests and a union leader was murdered. Strikes were met with brutality by police and attempts to form unions for the sector’s 4.5m workers were obstructed by a draconian registration process which saw 50 per cent of applications rejected.

Union leader murdered after dispute negotiation

Shahidul Islam, a prominent trade union leader of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF), was murdered in Gazipur on 25 April 2023 after visiting the Prince Jacquard Sweaters factory to address a dispute over unpaid wages. On leaving the factory, he and other union officials were brutally attacked by a gang. Islam died as result of his injuries and three colleagues were injured.

Credit: STR / NurPhoto via AFP

Union activity is obstructed and blocked within Bangladesh’s eight Export Processing Zones. Attempts by the 4.5 million workers in these zones to peacefully demand improved working conditions are often violently obstructed by the country’s Industrial Police force.

Protesting workers killed by police

On 30 October 2023, garment workers from factories in Dhaka clashed with police while protesting for increases to the minimum wage after a paltry government offer. A 25-year-old maintenance machinist, Md Rasel Hawlader, who worked at Design Express, was shot and killed by police. Despite not even having participated in the protest, Hawlader was nonetheless chased and gunned down by the police after leaving work.

Strikes continued in November, forcing the closure of at least 100 factories. On 9 November, up to 25,000 garment workers clashed with police who fired live bullets and charged protesters with batons and tear gas. Anjuara Khatun, a 26-year-old machine operator at Islam Garments, was shot dead. Hundreds of garment workers involved in the strikes were badly injured.