Three Bangladeshi garment manufacturers that supply brands such as H&M and Next have laid off thousands of workers amid ongoing wage protests.
Workers clashed with police as the protests continued into January, prompting the government to urge the manufacturers to raise wages.
Union leaders said Crony Group, East West Industrial Park and Metro Knitting & Dyeing Mills have all laid off workers.
Crony Group and Metro Knitting & Dyeing Mills both list H&M and Next as clients on their websites.
Head of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, Babul Akhter, said at least 7,580 workers from 27 factories had lost their jobs in recent weeks.
A spokesperson for H&M said: “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. The garment workers’ frustration clearly highlights the need for strengthened industrial relations in the country. 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, situations such as this one can be resolved long-term.
Following this unrest, a settlement (a memorandum of understanding) has been signed by factory management, associated trade unions (including IndustriALL), and worker representatives. We understand garment workers have recently been dismissed from three factories produce for H&M group amongst others, and we are closely observing the situation to ensure that that the documents and agreements that have now been signed are acknowledged and approved by all parties, outlining valid information and appropriate grounds for termination of employment. This issue will remain at the top of our agenda and we stay in close contact with the suppliers, industry association, trade unions and other buyers.”