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Cablegate: Ringshine Wrwc Members and Managers Start Labor

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

191032Z Sep 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 004727

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ETRD PGOV PREL BD
SUBJECT: RINGSHINE WRWC MEMBERS AND MANAGERS START LABOR
RELATIONS TRAINING

REF: DHAKA 4657

1. (U) Summary: On September 19, in a house in the Dhaka
diplomatic enclave, Ringshine management, members of the
Ringshine Workers Recreational and Welfare Committee (WRWC),
and USAID-funded Solidarity Center (SC) met to start labor
training sessions. No representative from BEPZA was present.
End Summary.

2 (U) On September 12, the Taiwanese-owned Ringshine LTG
ready-made garment factory came to a potentially landmark
agreement with workers to resolve serious issues arising from
the factory's implementation of the EPZ labor law and its
alleged persecution of workers and members of its Worker
Representation Welfare Committee. The agreement followed the
arrival in Dhaka of representatives of a major Spanish buyer
who threatened to pull its orders from Ringshine and perhaps
Bangladesh. Part of the agreement includes worker and
managementtraining by the BDG, the ILO,and Solidarity Center
(SC).

3. (SBU) On September 18, BEPZA Joint Secretary Mohammad
Shajahan told poloff that it was "OK" for Solidarity Center
and Ringshine to train the WRWC members on the condition that
the 8 WRWC members with criminal cases against them, despite
their being free on bail, will not be permitted on BEPZA
grounds. He complained that he did not know the details of
the agreement and has not received any official communication
from Ringshine management related to the agreement.

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4. (SBU) Shajahan also complained that the SC training would
be ineffective as Ringshine has "no experienced Human
Resource people" to use the training and that the General
Manager is a weak manager. He added that the decision to
accept the four-week training may need to be scrutinized
after the return of the Executive Chairman, and that the
entire BEPZA Executive Board may need to rule on the matter.

4. (SBU) At the September 19 training session, a Bangladeshi
manager for Ringshine spoke first to the 12 WRWC members
assembled for the training. He recounted the history of the
EPZs, explaining their purpose was to increase employment
among the many unemployed Bangladeshis. He said that the
objective of Ringshine is to run a factory, without which the
people would be unemployed, so we need to be a "team." He
said that if the WRWC does something without working with the
supervisor, then "this is not teamwork", but now "we should
now try to make this a model program for our country."

5. (SBU) Solidarity Center's Rob Wayss then recounted the
developments over the past few days that led to the September
19 training session, saying that he was still uncertain if
BEPZA would be supportive of the training but understood that
the BEPZA Executive Chairman Md. Zakir Hossain was "not
unsupportive." He emphasized to the WRWC members that BEPZA
and Ringshine management would have their own training
sessions as it would be "unfair to influence the workers too
much." He said that he was hopeful that training would be
possible at the Ring Shine factory located in the Dhaka
Export Processing Zone (DEPZ).

6. (SBU) Wayss detailed the rest of the notional training
agenda which included speakers from:
--ILO-Dhaka;
--BEPZA's Industrial Relations Staff;
--Ministry of Law EPZ Labor Law experts;
--Ministry of Commerce;
--Compliance officers from Carrefour and Walmart;
--Representatives from Ringshine management;
--EPZ Investors Association;
--Bangladeshi NGOs who deal in many women workers; and
--Solidarity Center trainers.

7. (SBU) SC's four-week training course for both Ringshine
WRWC workers and managers started ahead of BEPZA's own
training course, which BEPZA expects will start October 15.
BEPZA anticipates that their course, conducted with the
financial assistance of ILO, will cover the same subjects as
SC's training and will train 1500 WRWC members and 500 Human
Resource people in a five-hour training session. BEPZA would
exclusively teach the classes of 80 workers and 20 Human
Resource personnel in both Chittagong and Dhaka EPZs until
2000 persons are trained. When asked if ILO or SC might
participate in the BEPZA training courses, Shajahan said it
would not be possible for SC to train workers, but both ILO
and SC might attend the sessions as observers.
CHAMMAS

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