The Eid Festival for Workers – Uncertainty, Pain, Death, Wait … vain.

Just when it probably was the time to make joyous wishes and forget the recent poignant memories of painful events in Bangladesh’s most labor intensive industries, today on 05 October 2014, a fire broke out originating from the gas cylinder leakage in the generator room of Ishrak Spinning Mill. This factory supplied yarn to some of the leading garment manufacturers in the country, stitching for the biggest brand names adorn by the blessed of the world. At least 2 workers suffered injuries from this deadly fire which could as well have consumed their lives just as easily. It may be worth mentioning that the same spinning mill had another fire exactly 450 days ago, i.e. on 12 July 2013 [1].
Charred machine in Ishrak Spinning Mills

Charred machine in Ishrak Spinning Mills

The tragedy of workers just before the last major festival of the year does not end here. With anxious workers of 5 closed factories of Tuba Group still begging for their rightful bonus from the previous Eid which was promised by the BGMEA and Delowar Hossain, but continuously being denied of it … the festivities could not have started again with a sourer note. Delowar, now a free man with extended bail, is running at least 5 more of his factories while making it very clear that he will not pay workers any of their bonus or their legitimate dues on being laid-off from work after he closed down the factories. Shamelessly, BGMEA remain silent, as the owner of Tazreen demand more loans and payment of insurance claims on Tazreen to enable him to pay his workers – a demand rejected by the insurance company which points out to the flaws of Delowar’s claims.

As the second biggest festival for Bangladeshi Muslims, and the biggest festival for the Bangladeshi Hindus (largest minority community in Bangladesh) arrives for all, the minimum wage earning workers of the country not only find it hard to celebrate but also find themselves once again embroiled in a battle to keep themselves and their families safe and fed during this time.

There are basically two important dreams that every worker (of garment, construction, jute, leather or other manufacturing based industry) has for festivals like such, (i) A few days with their families, even if its only 3 days, (ii) Some bonus with which they may think of buying something sweet for their loved ones.

Would happily give up her life for a glimpse of her loved one's smile!

Would happily give up her life for a glimpse of her loved one’s smile!

Apart from the demands which are basically all they ever dream about, the reality of safety at factories, security for their travel home, and safety during their journey back literally haunts these workers as they do to the general masses in Bangladesh due to the almost traditional highway and river-way accidents killing large number of these innocent folks traveling in the massive rush created due to the only holidays 4.5 million workers get all at the same time for the same reason.

overloaded train with passengers going to their hometowns on festival holidays

overloaded train with passengers going to their hometowns on festival holidays

Eid has brought an end to at least 22 lives [2] across the country, mostly riding unsafe transportation options which come cheaper and are thus overloaded. The biggest customer base for such “vessels of death” are of course workers, lead by garment workers, looking forward to that moment where s/he could behold the face of her loved one.

Some people couldn't make it to the shore. A common festival disaster in Bangladesh.

Some people couldn’t make it to the shore. A common festival disaster in Bangladesh.

Eid starts after Eid Prayers on 06 October 2014 (approximately 8:30AM in the morning, Bangladesh Time).

 

May blessings touch the forsaken,

 

RISE Society

 

—————–

[1] http://archive.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/16-hurt-as-gazipur-generator-blast/

[2] http://www.thedailystar.net/tags/road%20accident

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Posted in Garment Worker Issues

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