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Monday’s New York Times reports on the ongoing saga (covered elsewhere weeks ago, such as a Jan. 8 article from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/…/bangladesh-garment-workers-fa…) of Bangladeshi garment workers facing fierce repression. Jahangir Alam, president of a union near Dhaka, was seized by police a month ago and has been held essentially incommunicado. He is one of at least 14 labor activists seized since a wave of strikes and protests hit garment factories manufacturing for companies like H&M, Zara, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger and others. Police say another 1,500 workers have been fired for taking part in the strikes, and thugs ransacked union offices across the country.
Employers claim they support an increase in the current 32 cents an hour minimum wage law and other reforms. Indeed, once you get past the jump the NYT article is largely devoted to “two coalitions dedicated to improving the lives of workers” which were founded by global apparel firms. The head of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Assn says its all very well for the transnational garment firms to say they support higher wages and better standards: “while global retail brands had called on Bangladeshi factories to improve safety standards and wages, they had resisted paying higher prices…”