The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has denied the accusation of worker abuse at a garment factory that supplies clothes for Canadian brand Lululemon.
The Guardian, a UK-based newspaper, has recently made the allegation in a report titled "Workers making £88 Lululemon leggings claim they are beaten".
The report said a few garment workers of Youngone, which had manufactured clothes for the famous Canadian brand, claimed that supervisors and managers abuse them physically and verbally.
The garment exporters association stated without any equivocations that abuse or torture is not tolerated within the industry and it strictly acted upon. Even if they are true, these incidents by no means reflect the situation at the factories which the association proudly claimed to be improving every day.
The report also said the Bangladeshi manufacturer pays a worker Tk9,100 per month which is well below Tk16,000 the unions have long been demanding.
Produced as part of the Guardian's collaboration with Humanity United, a US-based foundation, the report went on to state that workers have even been denied to leave despite being sick.
The BGMEA in its statement claimed that workers of Youngone are paid well above the nationally set minimum wage of Tk8,000.
The Guardian report makes several allegations against a garment manufacturer of good repute and the reporter has not bothered to contact the factory management or its owners for reaction or comments over the allegations.
"The report quotes a number of other experts and activists who are noted critics of the RMG industry. But there was no attempt to contact the BGMEA for its comments regarding the supposed allegations," claimed the BGMEA statement.
"The report quotes just a handful of workers and their previous experience to substantiate the claim made in the headline which suggests that it is almost an institutional practice at Youngone to torture its workers," it added.
The Guardian report also quoted Anna Bryher from Labour Behind the Label citing a "recent survey" that found 80 percent of Bangladeshi workers making clothes for international companies had experienced or witnessed sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.
The BGMEA in its statement said not only was it irresponsible to have a noted activist cite a survey that tarnishes the image of the entire industry in Bangladesh, but the fact that the Guardian leaves research to its sources is also rather unfortunate.
While it is understandable that the workers making allegations would prefer to remain anonymous, the BGMEA wonders why the source of the "recent survey" that was cited was also kept from the Guardian's readers.
Bangladesh's garment industry has about 4,6000 factories with almost 4.5 million workers and is the second-largest garment manufacturer in the world. The allegations of a handful of workers and an anonymous survey should not be used in such a manner as if that is symptomatic of the entire industry.