1. Worker Diaries Money Diary: A 25-Year-Old Garment Worker In Bangladesh On 1k 2.Wage Digitization [Excerpt] According to a recent report on wage digitization in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh, about 1 million workers are now receiving their … Continue reading Garment Worker Diaries, Digitization, Pay Gap
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre” is an appropriate last chapter for a book that is an amazing picture of the wheels of global capitalism as it lifts some and crushes others over centuries, continuously depleting “the reservoirs of human energy” and “the limited treasures of a wasting planet”. Continue reading “LABOR: World in a Shirt and Infinity in a Stitch”
by Faruk Wasif for Prothom Alo, translated by Irfan Chowdhury for AlalODulal.org
Kidnappers demand ransom after taking innocents hostage. Prisoners are exchanged during wars. But what sort of ransom is being sought for the Tuba Group, where sixteen hundred workers are made captive? If their co-owner, the arrested Delwar Hossain, is not released, the workers will not be paid. Nowhere in the company law is it mentioned that other business-partners will not be able to withdraw money from the accounts in the absence of a partner. The Tuba Group has made this case and Delwar Hossain’s bail has been granted.
Just as it is a crime to use hapless humans as shields in wars, the Tuba group has committed a crime by using hungry and wage-depraved workers. The Labour Minister has legitimised this use. The Shamim Osman(s) rely on the support of the party in power, and garment factory owners rely on the government support. What a dreadful situation.
জিয়া হাসান: “আজকে যদি এই রাষ্ট্রে একটা মানবিক এবং নৈতিক সরকার থাকতো, তবে তার দায়িত্ব হতো, তোবা গ্রুপের সকল ডাইরেক্টরদের স্থায়ী অস্থায়ী সকল ধরনের সম্পদ এবং মেশিন বিক্রয় করে, এই গ্রুপের শ্রমিকদের বেতন পরিশোধ করা।” Continue reading “Do they know it’s Eid Mobarak?”
In scores of rallies and public meetings, workers raised questions about the luxurious life led by factory owners while they lived in sheer misery. `While you (factory owners) eat the chicken’s thigh, we chew its feet, its claws.”
“more than three million women have been guaranteed jobs through the RMG sector, thus uplifting their status within the family, the society, and the state. If anyone has demolished the wall of repression, these are the millions of women workers of Bangladesh. If anybody has tasted freedom in whatever sense, it is these women. American Apparel, gain cheap popularity with your tantalizing ad all you want, but do not act as the grand savior…”
Bangladesh, the country and its economy, is full of contradictions. To list a couple, while it is one of the world’s fastest growing nations, it has pockets of extreme poverty and malnutrition in urban and rural areas. Another paradox: for the last two decades it has been ruled by two political parties, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by two head-strong leaders, who never can seem to agree on anything, but ran the gauntlet and survived many potentially dangerous threats, including religious fundamentalism, military takeovers, and internal revolt, to its fledgling democracy. Continue reading “The state of the Bangladesh economy”
By Nadine S Murshid and Awrup Sanyal for AlalODulal.org
“Economic growth cannot sensibly be treated as an end in itself. Development has to be more concerned with enhancing lives we lead and the freedoms we enjoy,” posits Amartya Sen in his book Development as Freedom (1999). Yet, Bangladesh has grown – developed at a decent rate of 6.7% over the last year – without enhancing the lives of workers, without the freedoms that Sen would like workers to enjoy, as exemplified, perhaps, by the recurrent protests by garment factory workers in Dhaka, protests that have a history of turning violent.
by Seema Amin for AlalOdulal.org
On September 2nd the Prime Minister visited Ashulia to lay the foundation for the ‘first’ women’s dormitory in the RMG hub. In her speech to the garments workers, she spoke, among other things, about being vigilant of those who conspire against the industry.
The Road to Court 21
by Seema Amin for AlalODulal.org
“O bleating without wool! O Wound!” Lorca Prologue: the incidental messenger
‘Now you say the income of the Adamjis, Dauds and Isphanis have increased by 40 % and the income of the s have decreased by 5 %, then you make an average and you get Per Capita Income and you say Honey and Money and Milk is Flowing in the Economy. What happens to Coliuddin, Soliuddin and Rohiuddin?‘ Continue reading “The Road to Court 21”
Very few governments, businesses or politicians have accepted their failures without making excuses or even lame excuses. But no Bangladeshi government has ever accepted its failing; Continue reading “Added anxiety to export”
This 2009 article revisits the figure of the ‘third world sweatshop worker’, long iconic of the excesses of the global expansion of flexible accumulation in late twentieth-century capitalism. I am interested in how feminist activists concerned with the uneven impact of neo-liberal policies can engage in progressive political interventions without participating in the ‘culture of global moralism’ that continues to surround conventional representations of third world workers. Continue reading “Dina Siddiqi: Do Bangladeshi factory workers need saving? Sisterhood in the post-sweatshop era”
Savar Tragedy: We Need a Fundamental Shift in Mind-set by Pavel Hoq for AlalODulal.org
The Savar building collapse last month was a catastrophic event, but it was not the first of such tragedies for us and probably won’t be the last either. Before the nation could recover from the Tazreen Fashion fire incident a few months ago in November 2012, the Rana Plaza collapse shook the country again. And by the time this piece was written, there were already more such news in the media including a Sea-Truck sinking with 100 on board on May 5th, leaving 8 dead and a garments factory fire in Mirpur, Dhaka on May 8th that killed 8 more people. Continue reading “Pavel Hoq: We Need a Fundamental Shift in Mind-set”
Bangladeshi garments should not play poverty to outsiders
by Farhad Mahmud
A colleague said: “If we force the issue (double the minimum wage) and it is firmly imposed, there is a danger that costs will increase too rapidly and business will be lost. The strategy is to shame the foreign buyers to reduce their profits (by paying a higher price for the products to support higher wages). Will it work?”
It’s often reported that the recession turned Americans into frugal shoppers. Well, here’s a bargain: spending about ten cents more on a piece of clothing produced in Bangladesh could prevent disasters like the horrific collapse, last month, of the Rana Plaza factory, which killed over a thousand people, the deadliest accident in history of the garment industry. Continue reading “Michael Guerriero: Ten Cents”
Canada’s Tristan Style has now withdrawn the anti-Bangladesh ad and posted an apology on their public Facebook page. Below is the apology they posted and the comments on the public Facebook page. Please add your comments as well.
Tristan: We recently posted a sign in one of our stores and want to apologize for the miscommunication of our message, which was removed the minute we realized the idea behind it may have been misinterpreted by some. The true intent of our message was to promote awareness of the importance of ethical manufacturing practices, something we remain committed to. Our thoughts are with the families suffering for their losses in Bangladesh. Continue reading “Canada’s Tristan Style withdraws anti-Bangladesh ad after protests”
[W]hen you consider that these reforms happened in a country with a shaky government, recovering from tremendous civil strife, and building a garment industry from scratch, their success suggests that change is possible. As Locke succinctly put it, “If Cambodia can do it, why can’t Bangladesh?”Continue reading “James Surowiecki: After Rana Plaza”
Her husband, Shomlal Das quietly preparing for her cremation. They forgot to bring sindhoor. She is a married dead. She must wear sindhoor, someone from the small crowd whispered. They opened the bodybag. Part of her face was smashed, there was barely any hairline. Shomlal sprinkled sindhoor on her face... He pauses and sighs, “the government officer just treat every dead as muslim.” Continue reading “Pramila Das: Even when they mourn, they mourn from the margin”
I spent the last 2 days in Savar. A concerted effort of architects, civil engineers, disaster trained workers from Red Cross & other agencies, trained community groups, fire fighters, armed forces, all have collectively formed a task force, and are slowly using heavy equipment to surely though slowly cut the top (maps have been made of the structure etc.) and lift people, dead and alive, as well as other equipment to remove debris. The process is slow, but the time for the public action, which was amazing,THEY ARE OUR S/HEROES, the only ones who went inside, is now no more feasible.Continue reading “Khushi Kabir: They Are Our S/Heroes”
“Journalist brother. You are a Hindu, I am a Hindu. Please don’t do any more harm to me. You know, how Hindus have to live in this country. Rana Plaza collapsed on top of my house and office. Four of my staff and three of my house help died. After the accident, goods were looted from my house. I can’t even go into my own house.” Continue reading “Rana Plaza built on land grabbed from Rabindranath Sarkar”
Who Will Bell the Cat? Guest Post by Fariha Sarawat
Much has been said about who’s to blame for the story state of garments workers’ rights, safety and working conditions in Bangladesh.
Some people, including some local manufacturers, would like us to buy in to the narrative of exploitative buyers whose predatory negotiations force our manufacturers to cut costs (because they are afraid they would lose the order otherwise to China or others) in order to stay competitive and that leaves the latter with little (once costs of inputs, overheads etc have been deducted) to pay to the workers. Continue reading “Fariha Sarawat: Buyers are also culpable”
Ready made garments industry is one of the most important sector for Bangladesh (after agriculture and foreign remittance). True this sector has many problems, but none should get more priority than the issue of workers safety and ensuring their basic rights. Continue reading “Are garment owners really to blame?”
Made in Bangladesh: The Terror of Capitalism
by VIJAY PRASHAD
“In the Atlantic world, meanwhile, self-absorption over the wars on terror and on the downturn in the economy prevent any genuine introspection over the mode of life that relies upon debt-fueled consumerism at the expense of workers in Dhaka. Those who died in the Rana building are victims not only of the malfeasance of the sub-contractors, but also of twenty-first century globalisation.”
Picture one of those nice sleek ads that we saw last month for Independence day. Or two weeks ago for Pahela Boishakh. Then keep the audio the same, but replace the visuals with the images from Savar. Why change the visuals but keep the audio, you may ask? Easy answer, I am a big coward. I can look at a dead body and maybe imagine it is still alive, if not for the veneer of white dust accumulated on the face and limbs. But the cries for help? Those whom we have doomed to die? I can’t handle that. So, just the video please.
Now will you have time? Now will you finally listen?
by Faruk Wasif, Translated from Bengali for AlalODulal.org by Tibra Ali
We are not slave-owners, we are a manager country of slavery. Our labour force is slave labour, our farmers are debt slaves and serfs. The big capitals exploit the labour in their own countries while they plunder the labour from countries like ours. Our wealth, natural resources and manpower; Our bodies, language and history, all of it is subservient to small capitals working for big capitals. This international family of big and little brothers is called imperialism.
Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai: A solution to worker’s problem Guest Post by Dhrubo Bornon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It happened again. Due to the negligence of factory owners, more than 100 people died. And we are asking, how many times more! Didn’t we say last time that it will happen again and again until government protects the workers? Yes, that is how we think, probably everyone, who are neither the ruthless owners nor their government patrons. We think that the solution is simple. Continue reading “Dhrubo Bornon: Garments & Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai”
One girl asked him [the factory manager], “Mr. Bonstein, why is there no water in the buckets? In case of a fire, there would be nothing with which to fight it,” He became enraged at our group of price committee members, and with inhuman anger replied: “If you’ll burn, there’ll be something to put out the fire.” (Stein, 1977) Continue reading “Will we continue to be silent?”
While Our Eyes Are Elsewhere
by Anu Muhammad, Translated by Tibra Ali for AlalODulal.org
Despite putting people from all walks of life at risk, the recent violence and uncertainty in our country seem to have inconvenienced the local and foreign plunderers and invaders very little. On the contrary, in many instances because of the shifted attention it has even helped them. For many this time of uncertainty has been a blessing!
Ultrasonic images of pregnant Mimi (pseudonym) taken less than a fortnight before fire broke out at Tazreen Fashions on November 24, 2012 burning to death 112 workers, according to the government and the BGMEA; the actual death toll, according to family members of missing workers, labour organisations and activists, is much higher.
Honourable prime minister,
I AM an unborn citizen of Bangladesh. I was killed before I was born. My mother was twenty-two weeks and three days pregnant with me when fire broke out at Tazreen Fashions in Nischintapur.
NOWADAYS the global media seems to be euphoric about us. Every now and then, The Economist heaps lavish praise for our apparently astonishing economic happenings. Lately, JP Morgan added Bangladesh in its catalogue of ‘Frontier Five’. The McKinsey Report spotted Bangladesh as the next hotspot for global apparel bazaar. After finished havocking the Greek economy, Goldman Sachs kindly positioned us in its next-eleven brochure. And the World Bank confirmed our eligibility for a sharp 8 per cent growth. Continue reading “Maha Mirza: Liar Liar, Factories on Fire”
Many garment workers died on the evening of November 24th when fire broke out in Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia’s Nischintapur. The exact death toll is still unknown. According to the government, 112 workers had died but many family members were unable to identify their beloved ones as the flesh had burnt away leaving behind only charred bones and skeletons. Fifty three unidentified bodies have been buried in Jurain graveyard. But several investigative reports have concluded that the death toll is higher. Some of us have conducted preliminary research in Nischintapur’s Buripara at our own initiative, and, we too, have been forced to reach the same conclusion. The government and the BGMEA should immediately have launched a serious drive to ascertain the exact number of those who have died, but instead they displayed a callous indifference which amounts to nothing short of criminal negligence. Continue reading “Tazreen: Rokeya Bahini says BGMEA protects killers”
New York Times/December 11, 2012 American Tariffs, Bangladeshi Deaths
By SANCHITA B. SAXENA/ Berkeley, Calif.
THE fire that killed 112 workers at a garment factory in the suburbs of Bangladesh’s capital last month was a stark reminder of the human costs of producing and consuming cheap clothes. While American officials have condemned poor safety conditions at the factory and have urged the Bangladeshi government to raise wages and improve working conditions, the United States can do much more: It should bring down high tariffs on imports from Bangladesh and other Asian countries, which put pressure on contractors there to scrimp on labor standards in order to stay competitive. Continue reading “Tazreen: American Tariffs, Bangladeshi Deaths”
Bangladesh is on the front page of the New York Times for the third time this year. All three stories have been on the garments industry. The previous two talked of opportunities and warned of dangers and exploitation in the industry. The latest one is, of course, after the fire. Reporting by Jim Yardley and Julfikar Ali Manik, photographs by Andrew Biraj and Khaled Hasan.