Professor Ali Riaz on FB:
Is someone in Dhaka taking notes?: Some recent events with potential serious implications warrant attention of observers of Bangladesh politics/economy, not to mention Bangladeshis. On Tuesday (18 July 2012), leading international importers of garments products from Bangladesh, met at Dhaka to ‘share their concerns over persistent labor unrest in the industry’. This unprecedented meeting was attended by the representatives of 19 leading brands, including Walmart, Gap, H&M, Carrefour, Tesco, JC Penney, Nike, MARKS & SPENCER, mothercare and Levi’s. They have decided to send a letter to the PM. A draft, obtained by a leading newspaper in Dhaka, states: “Unrest among the workers in this sector is seen as risk among our companies and could cause damage to the reputation of Bangladesh as a reliable sourcing market.” This move came after the recent comment of the US envoy that Bangladesh’s apparel exports to the U.S. and the European Union may face a ‘stormy situation’ if abuses of labor and human rights are not halted. The letter is being sent to the PM, perhaps on the same day of a congressional hearing on ‘Human Rights in Bangladesh’ in the US capital. The congressional hearing is scheduled on 19 July 2012 (Washington DC time 1 pm). It is worth noting the panelist invited to speak at the hearing: Acting Associate Deputy Undersecretary, Department of Labor (Eric Biel), and Asia Regional Program Director of American Center for International Labor Solidarity (John Sifton). It seems that the concerns expressed by Hilary Clinton during her visit to Dhaka, and US labor organizations in the United States since the death of Aminul Islam, will be a major issue in the hearing. The letter to the PM and the hearing at DC do not augur well for Bangladesh, at least for the moment. But is someone in Dhaka taking notes?
Saif replied: You have highlighted a very important issue which may have far reaching impact on Bangladesh economy. The 330 page document to Senate on HSBC and the mentioning of two Bangladeshi banks involved in terrorist financing can also turn very ugly for all Bangladeshis living abroad.