‘Ready-made garments’ is the No. 1 industry of Bangladesh with 75% of the total exports. More than 4,000 factories are activating in this sector which employ more than 1.2 million workers, 90% of which are women. Garment factory workers are the most productive and yet most exploited, the least rewarded but appreciated sections of the poor working class.And what are the exploitations?
Hundreds of Bangladeshi textile factory owners failed to meet a government deadline to pay the workers even the minimum wage of 25 US dollars a month. Out of 2400 garment factories, 400 were still ignoring the rule as of June 30 - according to the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association. In some factories, workers earn as little as 13 dollars a month.Dateline MSNBC went undercover to produce this investigative video report. This shows foreign factories in places like Bangladesh are not living up to their promises to treat workers fairly.
This is not the publicity Bangladesh can afford when they have more challanges from China in the coming years. Dateline MSNBC last year produced another investigative report which showed that the bargain shopping trend of Americans are behind this exploitation. Big shopping chains like Wal-Mart are keen to bargain at a lower cost rather being keen on workers issues. One Bangladeshi garments executive claims:
A few years back, I told Wal-Mart, "Give me one cents more a piece, one cent. I will use that money for these poor people.’ He says, ‘No, give us two cents less.'If we continue to accuse Bangladeshi companies of exploitation and do not bind or give them space to ensure employee welfare then after some days they will lose the contract and a unethical Chinese company will supply cloth to USA. Because US consumers are least bothered about anything else than having a bargain.
For the Bangladeshi RMG entrepreneurs it is important to ensure the workers a fair minimum wage because they should not kill the layer of golden egg.