Garment workers in Bangladesh fight back
Christine Davies looks at Bangladeshi garment workers’ struggle for increased wages
As a follow up to our recent post about the terrible safety and labour standards for garment workers in Bangladesh, recently garment factories there have been forced to shut down as workers have taken to the streets demanding higher pay.
The workers are seeking monthly wages of $100, up from the current $38 per month. The protests, which have gone on for several days, have led to clashes with police forces who have used tear gas to attempt to disperse the workers. A government committee is currently studying the minimum wage and is set to make recommendations later this year.
Meanwhile, workers in Bangladesh continue to struggle to form unions, which might assist their efforts to obtain better wages and safer working conditions. Efforts to organize unions following the recent string of deadly factory fires have been met with fierce resistance by factory owners.
As reported in the Wall Street Journal, managers have been pressuring workers not to join unions, using threats and also attempting to buy off support with cash and other treats. Some of the anti-union campaigns have taken a violent turn, and in one instance a union supporter was attacked with cutting shears. Continued international pressure is needed to ensure safe working conditions become a reality in Bangladesh.