letter from Mushrefa Mishu below

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Hungerstrike – GWUF Garment Worker Unity Forum – July 2014

Dear Friends, 

Struggling greetings. Hope you are all keeping well with work spirit. Here, we (gwuf) are in a sort of Battle field. We (gwuf) are in fighting. For your kind information, today I want to share our (gwuf) recent movement. This is not a small or a medium size movement, in fact this movement has moved our whole nation, people here has cried simultaneously laughed. People didn't watch this sort of movement here before, it brings a super duper success for our organization as we as for garment workers in BD.

The thing is, we (gwuf) are in ......hunger strike since 11 (eleven) days to realize three months arear wages, one month overtime bill and Eid Bonus (Festival Bonus) for 5 (five) factories, 1600 workers of Toba group. Hope you could remember the Tazreen fire on 2012 November at Ashulia. Tazreen Factory is one of the member of Toba group. Because of our long standing constant movement to arrest and punish murderer Toba group owner Delware Hossain. Last February when he appeared High court for bail, that time Honourable Judge cancel his bail and sent him to jail. From that time BGMEA has playing a very dirty game to release Delowar.

Toba group management (joint collaboration with BGMEA) had paid all due wages to 02 (two) factories. 01. Tuba garments Ltd, 02. Taif print Ltd. They paid one thousands workers of those 02 factories. But they didn't pay 1600 workers of 5 factories.

This is a very dirty game of BGMEA and Delowar's family who are the big bosses of Tuba group. BGMEA's dirty game is to confuse workers that, look Tuba owner now in jail. So, how can you get wages?! Primarily, workers were confused. So, pro-government and pro BGMEA trade union organisations demonstrate to bail of Delowar by using Tuba workers. But when our organisation have been involved with Tuba workers, then the situation has rapidly changed.

Friends, Before Eid day 28th of July, when we see 1600 workers of 5 factories of Tuba group didn't pay workers, Then I at 11 am contacted Tuba management and senior officials of BGMEA and requested them to pay the arrear wages of workers. But they did not response.Since May these workers are continuing movement for their arrear bills. Four times they ley seize BGMEA office, two times they made written contact with BGMEA and Tuba management. We made protest rally, press conference, talked to labour minister, talked to round table, wrote article in the daily newspaper. But all initiatives has been failed, after all those I announced ultimatum to BGMEA and to Tuba authorities at 12 am, that with 7 pm if you didn't pay 1600 workers 3 months wages, one month overtime and Eid Bonus, - GWUF will go for tough action. I said, if you didn't pay them we (gwuf) will go for "Fast unto death" (Hunger strike until death) and I will lead that Fast unto death (hunger
strike till death).

In spite of this strong ultimatum BGMEA and Tuba authorities didn't response., then we started "Hunger strike till death" at 7 pm on 28th of July. 1600 workers join with this hunger strike, after that all staffs also join with our hunger strike. 29th of July was Eid day. Whole nation enjoyed Eid festival,Eid joy. But I was in hunger strike in association with 1600 workers.

Our family and friends were astonished garment owners did shopping for Eid millions Millions taka from Dhaka and abroad but Tuba workers were in "Fast unto death" Hunger strike until death. Lots of people were crying to see that we are in hunger strike at Eid day.
These workers were made world cup jersey. World  cup has been over but our workers those who made jersey they didn't get their salary, its tragic. Three months they didn't get salary. How can they survive?? So, we don't have any alternative except hunger strike. Billions of people of the world enjoyed world cup, they waves their favorite jersey. They should have the moral duty to know about the workers who made these jersey. One German buyer "OWIM-gmbh and com" ordered this world cup jersey in these factories.

29th of July from Eid day morning, people from different districts and progressive political parties, student organization, women organization, progressive trade union organization, youth organization, cultural organization, University teachers, civil society people, advocates, doctors, engineers and all progressive professionals express their solidarity with our hunger strike. 11 days we were in hunger strike. Everyday morning since 10 am we have arranged solidarity express meeting and protest song. Poetry, drama till mid night. And mid night we tried to sleep in the floor, gwuf made medical team, media team, fund raising team, volunteer team. the whole program were very discipline and peaceful. 

We form a alliance "Tuba group workers Action committee" with 15 progressive and democratic garment workers organisation. GWUF is now lead the alliance. 

Friends, our hunger strike were very peaceful. But suddenly 6th and 7th July local Badda thana police disconnect water supply of this 6th floor and of whole building. They didn't allow our doctor to give us treatment. Police even didn;t allow us to serve saline and vitamin and other medicines, hope you can understand, every day lots of workers getting ill. 280 workers including me were getting very ill. But 2 days (6,7 July) we didn't get saline. Thats why we became very weak. Even police didn't allow journalist to go inside to collect report or picture of us.

On 7th July, 11 day of our hunger strike, suddenly Badda thana officer in charge (OC) attack on us with his force, they through rubber bullets, hot water, piper spray, tear gas on us. Police strongly beats us. Still I tried to stay there. Then Badda thana OC M.A Jalil threatened me, if you don't leave this place, you will see our police will rape women workers.

I need to inform you here that there were 1300 female workers and 300 male workers. By hearing the OC's threat to me workers were crying loudly that time police beats us barbarously and I was bound to move with the workers to the downstairs, to the street. our fifty workers and members were seriously injured. 15 workers were arrested including me. 14 were brought to local Badda thana. Detective branch police (DB) were brought me to minto road DB office. At 8.30 pm police released us all. In DB police office they tried to break my hunger strike, but I didn't allow them to do it. When DB police bring me home then at 9.0 pm I break my hunger strike to my mothers hand. After all these brutality BGMEA paid 3 months wages, one month over time but workers didn't get Eid bonus still. Now our demand is open factories and to continue factories lawfully. Yesterday, 9th July we had a nation wide garment factory strike in protesting police torture. Tomorrow, 11th
July 2.0 pm I have a meeting with Tuba workers. Within 3 days we will meet a press conference and declare next program. Please friends convey/share my this letter to all our friends every where.  We need solidarity. Thanks. 

Regards and Solidarity

Mushrefa Mishu
President
Garment Workers Unity Forum (GWUF)