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Garment Workers Lead Fight in Bangladesh

Views: 13 Written by FN Brill In Bangladesh, workers are engaged in a protracted battle for the restoration of union rights, which were suspended more than a …

by World Socialist Party US



1 min read

Written by FN Brill

In Bangladesh, workers are engaged in a protracted battle for the restoration of union rights, which were suspended more than a year ago when the government declared emergency rule. Interim authorities used that power earlier this year to file criminal cases against dozens of union members, including leaders of the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers’ Union Federation.

In a Dhaka shop operated by garment-maker RM Sweater, workers mourn the loss of a fellow worker, a 25-year-old man they called Russell. Though he complained of severe chest pains, management refused to let Russell leave work, where he collapsed and died April 1.

Demanding accountability and compensation for his family, Russell’s co-workers took to the streets in protest, as other garment workers had done in February after the murder of another garment worker, 22-year-old Mohammad Khokon. The Bangladeshi press reports that he and a co-worker were beaten by managers of the World Dresses Limited after hours at the manufacturing complex.

The continuing brutalization of workers by the garment industry and the emergency government has prompted demonstrations and riots. Factory gates and city streets have been filled with protests, the latest of which surround escalating food prices.

Dozens of garment workers, who operate Bangladesh’s largest export industry, went on strike in mid-April demanding higher wages to defray the rising cost of basic groceries. Protestors broke storefronts and threw stones, and several were injured when police charged and fired teargas into the crowds.

The International Textile, Garment, and Leather Workers’ Federation reports that an average garment worker makes less than $1 a day in Bangladesh, a paycheck stretched even thinner by the 33 percent rise in rice prices since last year. The ITGLW is urging the government of Bangladesh to restore full union rights and raise wages for garment workers, who drive the country’s most lucrative industry.

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