H&M defends Bangladesh factory links, calls for talks

today Feb 8, 2019
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H&M has responded to criticism about its use of factories in Bangladesh that have sacked workers taking part in wage protests.

Bangladesh has seen major protests against low pay for its garment workers - Flickr

The company, along with other big name retailers, has been on the receiving end of negative publicity over its dealings with such factories but said in its defence that “the well-being of the workers at our suppliers’ factories is a priority to us and we are therefore deeply concerned about the recent development in Bangladesh.”

It called for “strengthened industrial relations in the country,” saying that “when workers are listened to, when the parties in the labour market can engage in peaceful dispute resolution, and when the minimum wage level is revised regularly, that is when situations such as this one can be resolved long-term.”

But while it also said that it “fully” sympathises with the garment workers’ frustrations, it added that “we cannot encourage vandalism and violence as a means to an end. We strongly encourage peaceful conflict resolution for all parties in all situations and see ourselves as an enabler to make that happen.”

Its response came after days of protests and clashes between police and workers last month saw government intervention to force manufacturers to increase wages. But that intervention has also reportedly led to layoffs of those who took part with trade union sources saying that the affected workers have been those with trade union links.

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