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GSP restoration US Senator stresses ending harassment to union organizers

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Staff Reporter
US Senator Robert Menendez has said he cannot support the renewal or expansion of Bangladesh’s GSP benefits as long as union organizers and members are subject to harassment, intimidation, and violence from BGMEA factory owners and managers.
“As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, I cannot support the renewal or expansion of Bangladesh’s GSP benefits as long as union organizers and members are subject to harassment, intimidation, and violence from BGMEA factory owners and managers,” he wrote in a letter to BGMEA President M Atiqul Islam.
Menendez urged the President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) to take immediate and substantial steps to end the harassment and intimidation of union organizers and members by the garment factory owners in his industry association.
In his letter, Chairmen Menendez wrote that “union organizers and leaders in BGMEA factories are still subject to intimidation and termination,” and that he “cannot support the renewal or expansion of Bangladesh’s GSP benefits as long as union organizers and members are subject to harassment, intimidation, and violence from BGMEA factory owners and managers.”
“I strongly urge you to exercise your leadership to end these grave injustices and protect workers’ rights and safety,” he wrote.
In February, Chairman Menendez held a hearing on workers’ rights in Bangladesh and released a report on the topic last November. The letter to the BGMEA appears below and here.
Menendez mentioned that last year, at their first hearing on this topic, he urged the United States Trade Representative to suspend Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits to Bangladesh because of the dire state of workers’ rights and safety.
The Senator said union organizers and leaders in BGMEA factories are still subject to intimidation and termination. “Just last month, four union organizers, including two women, were reportedly severely injured by two dozen attackers as they tried to organize workers in a large garment factory.”
He mentioned that incidents like these are completely unacceptable and the BGMEA is obligated to play a stronger role in preventing them.

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