As the world’s largest meat processor, Hormel has an extensive history of discrimination and intimidation.
It has been accused of systematically suppressing workers’ wages and rights, and has employed a variety of abusive practices, from denying workers their rights to denying them overtime pay.
For many workers, these practices have left them with little choice but to join a strike, or leave the plant and go to work elsewhere.
For a few, the choice is between risking a lifetime of work in the meat industry and taking their own life.
The Hormels of the world, however, can no longer ignore this.
Now, as the country of Bangladesh is set to vote in a landmark referendum to decide whether to join the new South Asia Organisation, it has become increasingly clear that the factory commissioning body’s power is not only to fire and punish, but to also suspend and punish.
Hormes own union, the Association of Meat Processors of Bangladesh, has called on the country’s parliament to pass the new law.
It is an important first step in the right direction in ending the abuse of workers’ rights, said Harsh Vardhan, the union’s general secretary.
But in the next phase of the fight, he said, workers need to demand that they will not be silenced by the factory.
The Bangladesh Industrial Relations Commission (BIRC) has recently approved a resolution to amend the law to empower the BIRC to suspend and fire workers.
“The industrial relations commission should have the power and the power over all of the employers, and the right to suspend or dismiss the employees,” said Vardham.
“In this context, the labour commission is the only authority which has that authority.”
BIRCs power has been increasing in recent years.
Last year, the BIRD, the Bangladesh Human Rights Commission, introduced new powers to suspend workers for any of a range of alleged offences, including murder, assault, fraud and breach of public trust.
It also allowed the BER to suspend employees for any offence committed by a family member or other person with the intent of hurting the company.
The new amendments are also designed to help BIRs powers expand beyond those currently exercised by BIR officers.
The amendments were approved on May 1, with only two of the eight amendments supported by the BIS (Bureau of Industry and Commerce), and the other five by the union.
“We are very proud of the amendment,” said Naveen Khurana, the chief executive officer of the Association for Bangladesh Meat Processers, in a statement.
“Our factory commissioners should be working with us to fight for the right of the workers to be protected and safe from abuse.”
A worker’s right to safe working conditions The amendments allow the BIRO to suspend the labour of a company’s employees, and to suspend their right to work in certain areas of the factory, such as assembly lines, where they may be present and engaged in a dangerous job.
The BIRO has said it will use the amendments to suspend all workers on the factory floor from April 20, 2018.
But the BIL (Banner for Labor and Employment) has said that the amendment could only be used to suspend BIR’s powers to fire employees, not suspend them altogether.
The amendment also would only allow BIR to suspend those who have committed any serious offence, such for murder or assault, while it could not suspend the workers who have been fired for serious offences.
However, BIR officials told Al Jazeera that these two provisions only apply to a handful of cases.
“A serious crime is defined in the law as a crime that results in death or serious bodily injury,” said Srinivasan Dhanapalli, the director general of the Birla Bank, which is the BIB’s official branch in Bangladesh.
“If a worker has committed a serious crime, then the police can also use the authority of the court to suspend his or her employment.”
“We will see how BIR reacts to the amendment.
The law is very clear and the BBI has to respond to the amendments in accordance with the law,” he said.
BIR commissioners can suspend the work of BIR employees even after the commission has issued a warning letter, the official said.
However that letter cannot be used as a legal basis to dismiss workers, and cannot be appealed to a court, he added.
The amended law will also allow BIRO commissioners to suspend any worker for any crime, including the murder of another worker, assault or fraud.
“They can suspend a worker for the crime of theft,” said Dhanapanalli.
“It’s a very broad power, and it does not give any protection to the worker.
We don’t know what will happen in the case of other crimes.”
The amendment has also allowed BIR Commissioner of Agriculture Mohammed Sayeed to suspend a BIR employee’s right for paid leave for the purpose of family matters, for instance, to care for a child.