Workers Uniting (the global union) Celebrates Bangladesh Denim Workers' Victory


    TORONTO, June 23 /CNW/ - Workers Uniting, the world's first global union
that is a partnership between Unite from the UK the United Steelworkers from
the US and Canada, today is celebrating the major victory of workers at the
R.L. Denim factory in Bangladesh.
    "This victory in Bangladesh - for more than 650 mostly young women - is
perhaps the biggest victory for workers in the developing world to date," said
Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW.)
    "The workers will no longer be beaten at work. They will be paid for
overtime and maternity leave. They now have toilet paper and other basic
needs," Gerard said. "This is a big win in the fight against the global race
to the bottom - not only for the workers in Bangladesh, but for Workers
Uniting as we take on battles from a global perspective."
    For years young women at the R.L. Denim factory were trapped under
prison-like conditions, forced to work seven days a week, beaten, denied
maternity leave and paid as little as 11 cents an hour. "Our efforts helped
hold a corporate exploiter accountable, and showed what's possible when
workers around the world stand together," said Tony Woodley, Unite Joint
General Secretary.
    When the factory workers asked for their most basic legal rights, they
were attacked, fired and thrown out on the street with nothing. For too many
workers in the developing world, this is the only choice they have - either be
exploited or starve, said Ken Neumann, USW's National Director of Canada


    In May, Metro Group, the world's third-largest retailer, announced that
after years of profiting from exploitation at the Bangladesh factory, the
company was pulling out its work just when the workers were on the verge of
winning their legal right to a democratic voice in the workplace.
    At that time, Workers Uniting and the German union Verdi signing an
unprecedented Joint International Solidarity Statement, in support of the
workers. The unions represent some 5.5 million workers.


    Now, Metro Group has admitted to its failure to monitor and protect its
workers. In a statement the company said it will:

    -   Immediately return all of its orders to the R.L. Denim factory in

    -   Institute significant changes throughout its worldwide supply chain
        to guarantee that human, women's and worker rights standards are
        finally respected.

    -   Open its factory to the respected Bangladesh Center for Workers
        Solidarity and National Garment Workers Federation to push for
        continued improvements.

    The factory now has child and health care centers, purified drinking
water, a dining area, toilet paper and soap, abusive supervisors were fired
and pay was corrected.


    "This campaign is so significant in that it has broken through the
isolation to reach out to some of the poorest and most abused workers in the
global sweatshop economy, proving that with the help of international
solidarity, workers can now ask for their rights and win," said Neumann.

    For more information about the global union, visit

For further information:

For further information: Connie Mabin, USW International, (412)
562-2616,; Bob Gallagher, USW Canada, (416) 544-5966,; Saba Mozakka, Unite, 020 7420 8916,

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