By Liana Foxvog and Bonnie Stinson, SweatFree Communities
In 2010, following garment worker protests for better wages in Bangladesh, suppliers for Walmart and other major brands brought falsified criminal charges against peaceful labor rights defenders Kalpona Akter, Babul Akhter, and Aminul Islam of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity. After a campaign by ILRF and allies, these three Bangladeshi labor advocates were released from imprisonment. But they continue to face falsified criminal charges. The most egregious charges could result in lifetime imprisonment or death penalty.
On Thursday ILRF and SFC sent a letter to Walmart correcting misinformation from Walmart’s previous correspondence and reiterating the demand to “ensure all unsubstantiated criminal charges against BCWS leaders and staff are immediately dropped.”
Walmart, whose tagline is “save money, live better,” must make a critical choice.
Walmart can refuse to accept responsibility for the behavior of its subcontractors. In this case, workers will continue to unite in solidarity for living wages and decent working conditions. Labor rights organizations such as ILRF and SFC will embark in a potent education campaign to ensure that customers are informed of Walmart’s behavior in Bangladesh.
Or, Walmart could acknowledge that charges still remain against Kalpona, Babul, and Aminul, and take the necessary steps to ensure that the falsified charges are dropped and that BCWS’s nongovernmental organization status is restored. As the ILRF-SFC letter stated, “we have no doubt that if Walmart insisted that its suppliers drop the charges against peaceful labor rights defenders they would do so in order to be assured of retaining Walmart’s business.”
Walmart is the largest buyer of clothing sewn in Bangladesh. Walmart clearly has the power to articulate and enforce a demand for respect for the basic human rights of its workers.
Take action today and tell Walmart that it is time to step up and ensure that workers in Bangladesh have the chance to “live better,” too:
- Want to do more? Download the hard-copy petition to circulate among your network. Help us reach our goal of 10,000 signatures by June 1st!