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Debenhams illegally terminates 69 employees of BD liaison office

Debenhams, a UK-based clothing retailer, has illegally terminated 69 employees of Bangladesh Liaison Office and did not pay their dues as per the law.

The British retailer also closed its operation in Bangladesh without settling the claim of the employees and doing business through a third party.

Debenhams Bangladesh Employees Union (DBEU), an organization of the former officers of the British company Debenhams liaison office in Bangladesh, made the claim at a press conference on Saturday in Dhaka.

Figure: Illegal closure of Debenhams operation in Bangladesh has left employees in trouble as suppliers are taking legal action against them.

“The Debenhams has been conducting business through about 150 specialized stores. During the Covid-19, the retailer fired 69 employees of its Bangladesh’s liaison office illegally and did not pay the dues as per the law,” said the leaders of the organization.

On top of that, the company is committing fancy fraud by illegally re-running the business through third parties without respecting the dues and labor rights of the workers, they said.

“Debenhams has been running a business worth around Tk900 crore through the Bangladesh Liaison Office. But during the global epidemic of COVID-19, 69 officers and employees of Bangladesh were sacked in April in a completely illegal manner,” said DBEU President Bahauddin Mohammad Ataullah in his written speech. .

In closing the operation of its Bangladesh liaison office, Debenhams did not comply with the legal procedure, said Ataullah.

Moreover, we have come to know that this organization has resumed its business through third parties without paying any dues and respecting their labor rights, he added.

Such activities of the organization are in violation of international labor law. Moreover, the organization is ignoring rules of the existing regulatory body of the country which is not accepted. Fancy cheating must stop now, said the leader of the organization.

He said that no rules of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) have been followed for the closure of the local liaison office.

As per the laws of Bangladesh, to shut operation here, the company has to publish an advertisement detailing the reasons for closures in most popular and highly circulated newspapers at least before three months.

On the other hand, a board resolution must be shown from the head office to close the liaison office.

Illegal closure of Debenhams operation in Bangladesh has left employees in trouble as suppliers are taking legal action against them.

“Due to non-compliance with all these legal procedures, Bangladeshi suppliers and vendors have now filed anonymous cases against us. As a result, we are in a financial crisis as well as a social and legal crisis,” said Ataullah.

Many of the dismissed officers and employees were living inhumane lives, he adds.

He said that he wished the Bangladesh government and regulatory bodies, especially BIDA, NBR and Bangladesh Bank, and the British High Commission to Bangladesh kindness and sympathy. I am demanding fair pay especially the full payment of salary for four months’ notice period, two festival bonuses, earn leave and gratuity.

Highlighting the importance of the media in establishing good governance in the operation of foreign companies in Bangladesh, Golam Morshed said it is not desirable for a British company to disobey laws and regulations in conducting business in Bangladesh.

He demanded that the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh and the regulatory bodies in Bangladesh take immediate action if there is any violation of law in this regard.

The victim of the illegal closure of Debenhams urged the government as well as the British High Commission to Bangladesh to take necessary steps to ensure payment of their dues as per the laws.

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