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BGMEA refutes Guardian report citing abuse of workers at Lululemon

BGMEA has refuted a news report titled "Workers making £88 Lululemon leggings claim they are beaten", published by The Guardian in UK, accusing that workers of a garment factory contracted by Lululemon are subjected to physical abuse.

The report cites a few garment workers of Youngone, which had manufactured clothes for the famous British brand, saying that supervisors and managers abuse the workers physically and verbally.

The report also states that the Bangladeshi manufacturer pays low wages and claims the wage of Tk 9,100 to be insufficient compared to the unions’ demand of Tk 16,000 per month.

Produced as a part of the Guardian’s collaboration with Humanity United, a US-based foundation, the report goes on to state that workers have even been refused leave despite being sick.

First of all, the BGMEA notes with delight that workers of Youngone are paid well above the nationally set minimum wage of Tk 8,000.

The report makes several allegations against a garment manufacturer of good repute and the reporter has not bothered to contact the factory management or its owners for reaction or comments to the allegations.

The report, however, quotes a number of other experts and activists who are noted critics of the RMG industry. But there has been no attempt to contact the BGMEA for its comments regarding the supposed allegations.

The report quotes just a handful of workers and their previous experience to substantiate the claim made in the headline which suggests that it is almost an institutional practice at Youngone to torture its workers.

Furthermore, the report then quotes Anna Bryher from Labour Behind the Label citing a ‘recent survey’ that found 80% of Bangladeshi workers making clothes for international companies had experienced or witnessed sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.

Not only was it irresponsible to have a noted activist cite a survey that tarnishes the image of the entire industry in Bangladesh, but the fact that Guardian leaves research to its sources is also rather unfortunate. While it is understandable that the workers making allegations would prefer to remain anonymous, BGMEA wonders why the source of the ‘recent survey’ that was cited was also kept from Guardian’s readers.

Bangladesh’s garment industry has about 4,6000 factories with almost 4.5 million workers and is the second largest garment manufacturer in the world. The allegations of a handful of workers and an anonymous survey should not be used in such a manner as if that is symptomatic of the entire industry.

The BGMEA states without any equivocations that abuse or torture is not tolerated within the industry and strictly acted upon. Even if they are true, these incidents by no means reflect the situation at the factories which the BGMEA proudly claims to be improving every day.