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Bangladesh workers: Borough supports motion for stronger sanctions

Marvin Rotrand’s second motion in two months supporting Bangladesh workers was passed at the CDN-NDG borough council meeting on June 4, and the motion will now proceed to city hall requesting support from all the other boroughs at the next city council meeting.

This time, the message he is sending out is “if you don’t improve you will lose the right to export to us.”

Given the gravity of the situation, last month Rotrand wrote a letter to the political parties with a copy of his first motion. “What came back was a declaration of solidarity with Bangladesh, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough,” he explained.

The Rana Plaza tragedy shocked the world, says this new motion. More than 1000 workers died in the clothing factory when the building collapsed, but there are many other

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cases each year in Bangladesh, where workers in the textile industry are the most underpaid in the world and working without health and safety measures making cheap clothing sold to other countries.

Rotrand calls it like it is: exploitation, modern day slavery.

He wrote to foreign minister John Baird in support of members of the growing bangladesh community living in Montreal who are still hurting from this tragedy.

He called upon the government of Canada to legislate certain minimal standards for health and safety in the workplace as well as in terms of liveable wage for countries who wish to export textiles to this country.

“I believe that our leadership on the issue of work conditions and the rights of workers will find support worldwide,” says the motion.

“In other words, countries like Bangladesh would have to have significant improvements carried out by its government if it wants the right to export to Canada,” he explained.

Rotrand says that while not all textile owners force workers to work in completely unacceptable conditions, there are enough clandestine factories that don’t have acceptable standards of health and safety.

As to the impact this type of motion can have, Marvin Rotrand is hopeful. “I’ve spoken to our deputies, to Irwin Cotler’s staff, to Marc Garneau, to Thomas Mulcair. All three believe this is an important motion and they will see what can be done at the federal level,” he promised.

Marie Cicchini |

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