2015 ITUC Global Rights Index Rating: 5

Unionists attacked and threatened:

Physical force, sexual intimidation and threats of physical assault and dismissal are often used to stop workers from organising. This has been particularly widely reported in the ready-made garment (RMG) industry. Workers involved in establishing unions in RMG factories in Gazipur, Ashulia and Tongi in Dhaka, and in Potanga and Nasirabad in Chittagong have been beaten, intimidated, threatened (including threats of death), sacked and forced to resign by factory managers and floor supervisors. Some factory owners have also used local gangsters to threaten or attack workers, including in their own homes, and many female workers have reported receiving threats and insults of a sexual nature.

One worker reported that when workers in her factory presented their union registration forms to the company owner, he threw it in the rubbish bin and then threatened them, saying that he would never allow union membership. Unidentified assailants (including one with cutting shears) later attacked two of her fellow organisers. Two weeks later, a group of men, including a known gangster and the factory owner's brother, visited her home and threatened her. She agreed to resign.

At another factory, a supervisor said any woman joining the union would be stripped of her clothes and thrown onto the street. Elsewhere, a manager said a female union organiser had been "polluting" his factory and that she should go and work in a brothel. A union organiser at a different factory said he had received a phone call asking him not to come to work again and also threatening to kill him if he did so. When he went there the next day, he was surrounded by a group of men who beat him and slashed him with blades.

On 22 February 2014, one garment worker leader and four organisers of the Bangladesh Federation for Workers Solidarity, two of whom were women, were attacked by a group of approximately 2 dozen men while speaking to employees of Chunji Knit Ltd, a garment manufacturing company. All five of the union representatives were beaten, kicked and thrown to the ground. One organiser was taken from the scene, beaten severely and dumped, unconscious, nearby. A female organiser was beaten, had her clothes torn off her and threatened with rape. The garment worker leader went missing.

On 26 August 2014, a female union president was beaten in the head with an iron rod just outside a factory owned by the Azim Group, requiring her to get more than 20 stitches. On 10 November 2014, at another of the Azim Group's factories, a female union organiser was swarmed by people, pushed to the ground and assaulted, and a male union organiser was chased away and punched. Another female union organiser entered the factory before being pushed out the door and then shoved out of camera range.

On 18 September 2014, workers of Lifestyle Fashions Maker Ltd reported being clobbered with iron rods and bamboo sticks by 20-25 officials following a feud over the formation of a trade union. The attack left at least 30 people injured.

Trade unions and human rights groups have reported that the police response to attacks on trade unionists, including the abduction, torture and murder of labour activist Aminul Islam in April 2012, has been very poor. As at April 2014, no one had been arrested or tried for his murder.

Transport union leader hacked to death:

On 5 May 2014, the body of General Secretary of Jhenaidah bus minibus transport workers' union Abdul Gaffar Biswas was found in the Arappur Baro-bridge area. He had been hacked to death the day before by a group described in the press as 'unidentified miscreants'.

The leaders of Jhenaidah bus minibus transport workers' union called a strike in response to his murder.

The ITUC Global Rights Index Ratings:

1 // Irregular violation of rights
Collective labour rights are generally guaranteed. Workers can freely associate and defend their rights collectively with the government and/or companies and can improve their working conditions through collective bargaining. Violations against workers are not absent but do not occur on a regular basis.

2 // Repeated violation of rights
Countries with a rating of 2 have slightly weaker collective labour rights than those with the rating 1. Certain rights have come under repeated attacks by governments and/or companies and have undermined the struggle for better working conditions.

3 // Regular violation of rights
Governments and/or companies are regularly interfering in collective labour rights or are failing to fully guarantee important aspects of these rights. There are deficiencies in laws and/or certain practices which make frequent violations possible.

4 // Systematic violation of rights
Workers in countries with the rating 4 have reported systematic violations. The government and/or companies are engaged in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers putting fundamental rights under threat.

5 // No guarantee of rights
Countries with the rating of 5 are the worst countries in the world to work in. While the legislation may spell out certain rights workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices.

5+ // No guarantee of rights due to the breakdown of the rule of law
Workers in countries with the rating 5+ have equally limited rights as countries with the rating 5. However, in countries with the rating 5+ this is linked to dysfunctional institutions as a result of internal conflict and/or military occupation. In such cases, the country is assigned the rating of 5+ by default.

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