Lidl supplier accused of violence towards workers
BEO Apparel Manufacturing Ltd, a Bangladesh based supplier of apparel to retailer Lidl, has been accused of beating workers and union representatives by staff from the Accord on Fire and Building Safety.
During a recent visit to a BEO factor Accord negatiators, who were trying to resolve an earlier dispute, witnessed the beating of a union representative and violence towards employees.
The Accord representatives allege that, during negotiations to re-instate 43 workers who were fired for speaking out against health and safety issues at the factory, managers grabbed a union representative to stop him leaving the building.
Management attack workers
They state that "Management’s actions instigated a broader clash with workers. During this clash, managers, some armed with wooden sticks or iron rods, beat a number of employees." One worker was said to have suffered significant wounds,and he and others were later treated at a nearby hospital.
Managers also locked the factory gate to prevent workers and Accord staff from leaving. The Accord group say they had to summon the police in order to finally get out.
The incident is the latest in a long line of issues at the factory which is owned by Mr. Ulrich Bornemann, a German national, and sells clothing to Lidl through importers Distra and Chicca.
Lidl, Distra and Chicca are all signatories of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and they and their suppliers, including BEO, are obligated to comply with the terms of the Accord, which protects the right of workers to raise concerns about safety hazards in the workplace.
In early September 2014, the factory’s union, which is the legally recognized representative of the workers, conveyed a number of complaints to management about workplace issues, including the calculation of legally mandated holiday bonuses and safety concerns.
BEO fired 48 workers less than a week later (all union members) and the police then attacked those who protested the sacking, hospitalising five workers.
Despite numerous meeting and discussions between management, owners and the Accord the workers have yet to be reinstated, while the latest incident adds pressure on Lidl to intervene in the process.
Lidl state that they have not used this supplier for almost a year.
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