Open letter to the struggling textile workers worldwide

Streik heißt die Devise!

Dear workers, families and comrades we send you warm greetings in Solidarity from Germany. It's not only since Rana Plaza became a symbol of the struggle for better working conditions in the textile factories all over the world, that we follow your different fights and strikes in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Cambodia and Sri Lanka and other places: For years now you're fighting at many places for compensation, minimum wages and humane working conditions. Here in Germany your strikes and demonstrations are hardly noticed. Only some „terrible accidents“ like in Pakistan and Bangladesh were widely mentioned in the media: daily newspapers, radio stations and TV were reporting about your dead brothers and sisters, the injured and about the relatives, who lost their loved ones.

Meanwhile more and more German Media are reporting about the background of the exploitative working conditions and starvation wages in the textile sector. In addition, activists of non-governmental Organisations (NGO's) and trade unions are putting pressure to politicians and companies. And also customers, who are buying the clothes you produce, are confronted with militants distributing leaflets in front of the shops, to inform about your working conditions.

Some activists groups choose another way: in their opinion sabotage and damage to property (without harming anyone) are helpful to put pressure on the (German) textile companies and brand labels. Together all kind of actions so far achieved only a small step forward: The German Minister for Development, Gerd Müller, tries to convince the companies to be part of an Alliance for better conditions in the textile factories – on a voluntary basis. We don't believe that companies like KiK, H&M or C&A are really interested in better working conditions and higher wages. Their main goal is still to get as much profit as possible.

In Germany, where lots of the Companies have their headquarters, the main goal of the establishment is to provide social peace without contradictions and rage. Many autonomous groups (self-organised groups without a central organisation) in Germany share the analysis that the capitalist system is based on exploitation and can't be reformed into something better like a “Capitalism light”, or “capitalism with a human face”. Nevertheless these reforms can help to create better conditions for some of you, in some places, sometimes.

There are no simple solutions to get rid of the capitalist world market or Capitalism itself. Through radical rejection of this system it's possible to imply at least breaking up its everyday normal madness. A future without exploitation and oppression can't be formed by theory, but must be developed by practical struggle and social movement. In the country of the winner of the crisis, we can't and don't want to wait for a radical left mass movement. The glitter facades of the free market stare at us every day from every corner. Let's pull them down!“ (Autonomous Groups)

Many of you won't get any improvements from the so called Alliance for the Textile sector in Germany. For the companies the agreement is based on voluntarism – they don't have to be part and the standards that are set are low. We don't set any hope in this – we fight for an end of Capitalism and for a liberated society that forms „Alliances from below“ without exploitation and oppression.


Direct Action has shown some effect at the economic level.“ The Anarchist Emma Goldman wrote these words in the beginning of the 20th century, a time of daily struggles and strikes in many factories. Direct actions and attacks on the infrastructure of companies are one answer for many autonomous groups in Germany. Decades ago in the 1980ths the feminist, militant group Rote Zora attacked the German company Adler, after the company ordered their sub-company Flair Fashion to brutally suppress an uprising of textile workers in a free trade zone in South Korea. 1987 the Rota Zora set a bomb in the Adler Head-Quarter, later different Groups did arsons at several Adler branches all over West-Germany. The damage – especially on the level of Adlers image – was enormous. Adler reinstated all of the fired workers and fulfilled at least parts of their demands. „Not only can international solidarity become practical, but also successful. Like capital our struggle must be global. Spreading information, sabotage and damaging their image can help to improve better working conditions.“ (autonomous group „kik them out“)


During the protests against the Summit of the G8, the eight most powerful governments of the world, in Heiligendamm (Germany) in 2007, some groups called for solidarity with the garment workers in Bangladesh, who worked under inhumane conditions. People followed this call - during the next weeks the windows of many Tchibo-shops were smashed, and the car of the President of Tchibo was set on fire.


Since 2013 different direct actions of solidarity took place, referring to your struggle for minimum wages and better working conditions. „We act in solidarity with all garment workers, who fight for higher wages and better working conditions.“ (autonomous group „kik them out“). Also the Alliance „Blockupy“ (an Alliance between left parties and activists) called 2013 for solidarity actions with textile workers. After the Rana Plaza and Ali Enterprize “accidents” the groups also support the demands for compensation for the victims and their families.


We think it's crucial for a successful fight of the workers in the textile sector for compensation and better conditions that we manage to put as much pressure on the companies as possible here.“ With these words written by „Destroika - autonomous groups for global solidarity!“ in 2014 they openly called for massive actions before and during the days of the celebration for a new Head-Quarter of the European Central Bank (ECB – 18th of March 2015). To support the struggle in the producing countries their proposal was to bring the different fights „into the European Cities and attack the responsible companies with direct actions“. The German Company KiK with their great number of offices and branches all over Germany was one of their main targets. Many groups followed this open call and in many cities activists smashed KiK's shop windows, left leaflets and graffiti like „Exploitation starts here.“


We're writing this letter to inform you directly about these actions of solidarity, because the media usually don't report about sabotage and also the public – at least in Germany – ignores these direct actions (we don't know exactly why). We want to break this silence and made a list of these still ongoing actions together with some quotes out of the declarations accompanying these actions. (Unfortunately we're not able to translate all of the declarations, therefore we pointed out some quotes).


At the end of our letter we attach a list with all actions we found out about (some declarations are also in English) and made short summaries about what happened. All solidarity actions are published on the German website or in left-radical newspapers. We publish this letter in different languages (you'll find an attached version in Urdu) and on different websites and send it also to NGO's, lawyers, trade unions and media. With this we hope that you will be informed about these actions.


If you want to write comments or get in contact with us, the best way is to post this on the website (also in English). A direct exchange through E-Mail unfortunately is not possible, as the German Police has a great interest to find the people behind these actions.



actions in solidarity 2013