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What She Makes

Statement Of Solidarity: Oxfam Condemns The Killing Of Union Leader, Shahidul Islam

Oxfam stands in solidarity with the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF), trade union leaders and all human rights defenders who stand up for workers’ rights and protect human rights.

Oxfam learned of the horrific news of the brutal murder of Shahidul Islam, a union leader who was beaten to death on June 25th for his labour rights activism in Gazipur, a major garment industry hub on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was an organizer of the BGIWF for 25 years advocating for workers’ rights as a trade union organizer, and was attacked and killed for standing up for basic human rights. We mourn not only the loss of an individual but also the loss of a powerful voice that championed the rights and well-being of workers, including the right to a living wage. We extend our sincere condolences to the grieving family, friends, colleagues and allies mourning his loss.

Kalpona Akter, the president of BGIWF, said: “Shahidul mobilised thousands of workers to join unions, empowering them to become solid factory-level trade union leaders. Throughout his life, he assisted thousands of workers in receiving arrears and severance pay wrongfully denied by their employers. With workers’ needs always in mind, Shahidul and three other union leaders met on the evening of his death to discuss a peaceful resolution to a wage dispute and the Eid-ul-Azha festival bonus. He met his fate due to the industry’s ill practice to promote yellow unionism for years and the neglect of workers’ voices. This needs to stop. Let our workers be free to organize and join unions. Shahid’s contributions to the labour movement were remarkable and will be sorely missed.”

Ahmed Sharif, a union organizer who was wounded in the attack, told the Guardian “As soon as we came out of the gate, a group of assailants grabbed Islam and separated him from us. They started cursing and randomly beating us, particularly Islam, some of them were kicking him mercilessly.”

As an organisation dedicated to the fight to end poverty and injustice, we are deeply concerned by the murder of Shahidul Islam. This tragic incident highlights the vulnerability of union leaders and activists fighting for workers’ rights. Oxfam joins BGIWF in demanding a thorough investigation and ensure justice is served for the death of Islam. We further call on all brands and stakeholders to conduct ethical purchasing practices upholding human rights within their supply chain and paying a living wage. We call on the government of Bangladesh to step up their protection of trade unionists who are exercising their fundamental human rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Oxfam stands in solidarity with BGIWF, raising a resounding call for justice in the case of Shahidul Islam and demanding the unwavering safety of workers, union members and human rights defenders. We stand united in their relentless struggle to defend workers’ rights at Prince Jacquard Sweaters Ltd factory and in workplaces across Bangladesh. Together we demand accountability and an end to the systemic violations that perpetuate injustice.



Shahidul and his colleagues were attacked after leaving the meeting with the management of a factory named Price Jacquard Sweaters Ltd to help the workers collect their due bonuses and wages. The factory management refused to comply despite being directed by the Deputy Commissioner’s (DC) office of Gazipur District to pay the workers’ salaries.

This is not the first time BGIWF has been the victim of such a fatal attack. Eleven years ago, in April 2012, another worker leader, Aminul Islam was tortured and murdered. Aminul was also an organizer with BGIWF, a vital contributor to the nation’s striving movement to advance workers’ rights. The murders of human rights defenders exemplify the extreme measures employed to suppress freedom of association in Bangladesh.

The tragic death of Shahidul, along with countless incidents of other workers being silenced by violence and fear, highlight the urgent need for change. Brands are responsible for ethical business practices and need to ensure that their purchasing practices are not leading to exploitation and deprivation of human rights. Brands must guarantee the right to a living wage and just, safe and healthy working conditions for garment workers.

Despite legal provisions, union leaders and activists face many challenges and restrictions such as anti-union discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against union leaders and members. Additionally, labour activists have raised concerns about the composition and independence of worker participation committees in factories. Labour activists argue that these ‘yellow unions’ are established by factory owners to exert control on workers raising concerns of workers’ rights to collective bargaining and discriminatory power dynamics.

Oxfam CanadaOxfam Australia and Oxfam Aotearoa’s What She Makes campaign aims to transform the fashion industry into a more just and equitable space by holding brands accountable for their purchasing practices and advocating for a living wage. A living wage is the minimum amount that a worker should earn in a 48-hour work week and adequately covers workers’ and their family’s basic needs, including food, water, housing, energy, healthcare, clothing, childcare, education, transportation and savings for unexpected events. We stand united with the women who make our clothes, advocating for their right to living wages, freedom of association and labour rights.

New Zealand clothing brands lag behind international transparency standards

A milestone report released today by Oxfam Aotearoa reveals that some popular New Zealand clothing brands are failing to provide basic information on where their clothes are made, despite this being increasingly standard in Australia and in Europe. 

Part of the ‘What She Makes’ campaign, the report reveals supply chain transparency ratings for six of New Zealand’s top fashion brands based on public data available to consumers. While some brands performed extremely well, receiving a full five-star rating, popular brands Glassons and Hallenstein Bros received a disappointing two-star rating. 

“Well-known fashion brands have really stepped up for this milestone,” said Shalomi Daniel, Oxfam Aotearoa’s Campaign Lead for Gender and Economic Justice.  

“We’re thrilled to see New Zealand founded brands and household names Kathmandu and Macpac performing equally as well as large multinational brands H&M and Lululemon all of whom received a full five-star rating. All four brands’ transparency extends to full lists of their Tier 1 factories, where they are located, and data about the people who are working in them. 

 “It is disappointing that Glassons and Hallenstein Bros have chosen not to share the most updated transparency information with their customers. Through not meeting all our basic criteria, unfortunately they received only a two-star rating. We hope to see them improve this as soon as possible. 

“More and more, customers are expecting their favourite brands to be upfront about where their clothes are made. Transparency is the foundation of an ethical supply chain – it allows workers, unions, and groups of people like us to scrutinise the working conditions of these factories and ensure that women who make our clothes are treated and paid fairly. 

“If a brand doesn’t share this data, that doesn’t mean the working conditions in their factories are bad – but it does make it that much harder for anyone to find out. 

“In some cases, brands themselves don’t even know where their garments are being made. After the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, some top international fashion brands only learned their workers had been killed when their logos were found in the rubble. 

“We’re calling for improved transparency across the fashion industry. It’s clear the basic standards have shifted – and they’ll only continue to. While we focused on Tier 1 suppliers in this report – the factories that directly supply the brands – some of the brands we looked at are already looking into reporting on their Tier 2 suppliers, the ones that supply their Tier 1 factories. This is commendable, and we see this sort of transparency being the future for the industry.” 

This transparency milestone is the second in the What She Makes campaign, where Oxfam Aotearoa is working alongside brands on a journey to paying the women who make their clothes in countries like Bangladesh and China a living wage.  

In late 2022, the first campaign milestone asked the brands to make a public commitment to paying workers in the supply chain a living wage. The campaign’s next milestone will be next year, when brands will be asked to separate labour costs in price setting and negotiation. 

“The good news is this is not the end – we will continue this journey with the brands to ensure that they pay the women who make our clothes a living wage. We welcome anyone wanting to support the campaign to help us demand better for the women who make our clothes by pledging their commitment at” 

Full list of brand ratings from the What She Makes Brand Transparency Report: 

  • Hallenstein Bros – 2 stars  
  • Glassons – 2 stars 
  • Kathmandu – 5 stars 
  • Macpac – 5 stars 
  • H&M – 5 stars
  • Lululemon – 5 stars 


The What She Makes campaign calls on clothing brands sold in Aotearoa New Zealand to pay a living wage to the women who make our clothes. Through the What She Makes campaign, Oxfam Aotearoa works directly with the brands to help them achieve each milestone. The ratings help keep brands on track as they go. 

About the brand tracker – The brand tracker uses a star-rating system which provides a snapshot of how well each brand is doing in each milestone. The tracker includes five milestones which companies will be evaluated against:  

1. Make a commitment (released November 2022)  

As a first step, we want brands to make a credible, public commitment to pay a living wage to garment workers in their supply chain. This is a powerful demonstration that the brand is embarking upon their living wage journey.  

2. Be transparent (May 2023)  

Brands should be transparent and disclose their full supply chain and publish the following information on their website: factory names and addresses, parent companies, number of workers and breakdown by gender, sourcing channel, and date when the list is published or updated along with a statement that it is a complete list of the brand’s tier-one suppliers 

3. Separate labour costs (May 2024)  

Separation of labour costs during price negotiations helps to quickly identify if the wages being paid to garment workers correspond to a living wage or not. It also allows the clothing brands and factories to negotiate a price without affecting the wages.  

4. Publish a plan (November 2024)  

Brands should develop and publish a step-by-step strategy outlining how and when a brand will achieve its commitment to pay workers a living wage and meet all requirements with clear milestones and targets.  

5. Pay a living wage (TBC) 

Within 4-6 years of making a commitment, brands should be paying a living wage within their supply chains. This requires collaboration, consultation, and public reports on their progress throughout the process.