We are a team of researchers and activists from Bangladesh, and we strongly defend the right of our labor in getting living wages and workplace safety. However, when buyers threaten to move away from Bangladesh due to unsafe factories, they must also point at themselves for being its reason.
Paying rock-bottom prices and expecting living wages being paid to the workers, or safety in factories, will not help NO MATTER WHICH PART OF THE WORLD they go to. Rather, only someone else in some other poor part of the world will get exploited for corporate greed.
Rather than declaring “I will move out!” the buyers and big brands should come into a joint consultation with rights activists, garment research groups, labors unions, manufacturers and civil society members to find a way and ensure proper wages and workplace safety for their foreign workers.
Moving the garment orders out of Bangladesh can only have a very negative impact on the countries economy, destroy the last hope of employment for millions of workers (mostly female, 80% of the labor force). This will be a gross violation of human rights.
Its as though a worker is being asked for work for less than peanuts without any leave or rest, and then if she falls down and hurts herself, the MASTER BRAND gets offended and embarrassed, declaring that “From now onwards, THIS WORKER WILL NOT WORK FOR ME, I WILL NOT PAY HER, LET HER DIE WITH HER FAMILY AS SHE MAKES ME FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE!” – This Is Intolerable for any human living at any part of the world!
We must come together and ASK FOREIGN WORKER RIGHTS ACTIVISTS AND BRANDS to look closely into the problem. The problem is not with the POOREST OF THE POOR, but it is with the RICHEST OF THE RICH! It is the policies of the skinflint buyers that result in the tragic loss of lives. Their negligence, ignorance, alien treatment of their suppliers and foreign workers, lack of interest in collective bargain or dialogue … are some of the most critical reasons why change has not yet arrived.
We would urge the media and the activists of the globe to SUPPORT BUSINESSES flowing to Bangladesh. DO NOT ABANDON THE VICTIM IN THIS CRISIS. However ensure safe, legal, ethical, equitable and thus sustainable business practices.