| by Swadesh Roy
( May 20, 2013, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) Bangladesh is the second highest exporter of manufacturedgarments,and one of the poorest countries in the world. This is a contrast, but it is also true that, there are some miracles dissimilarly in Bangladesh. Such as,it is the poorest country in South Asia where its economy is doing better in South Asia.In South Asia, Bangladesh is the densest populated country but the country is doing better in women education, maternal mortality than its neighboring country India, one of the biggest economic powers inAsia.
The country, which is doing better in the women education and maternal mortality is now mourning for the death of at least nine hundred women garment workers and more than two thousands wounded; who are fighting for their lives in the hospitals.Those women workers who are now in the graveyard or in the hospitals, they would produce the cheap garments for the people of the rich countries. Their cheap labor is the main mechanism of the profit of the world famous garments brand companies. Their cheap labors have also made some “money Mughal” in Bangladesh ,but they are a few numbers in Bangladesh. Most of the garment owners of Bangladesh are in the tough competition in their business now.Buyers are very much rigid in price. One of the garment owners of Bangladesh, who is now in the jail for the collapsing of his factory building case, is a supplier of one of the famous company of the world. He had been supplying them his products in same price for last ten years. That is why; the famous garment brand company is selling their products in low cost in every year. It is a very excellent strategy of business for a good company but who is giving the opportunity for this `low cost ‘or the` good business tactics’? It is obvious; the poor garment worker is the machine of their good opportunity that can make `low cost’ or good business strategy. But, what the poor workers have, that they can give? They have only starvation and for this starvation, she can sell her labor in any price. She can easily work in a danger condition which pushes her in death many times . She gives her life but there is no more blood in her body that can be reached in the citizen of the rich country who is getting low cost garment.
For producing low cost garment, the owners of the garment factories of Bangladesh cannot maintain the well working condition. On the other hand, getting job in a garment factory for an illiterate girl is an excellent opportunity in Bangladesh. Because it is a small country, its area is one seventh of Thailand but its population is 160 million; besides agriculture, its main wealth is only labor. More than 10 million of labors of Bangladesh are working abroad, and 4 million workers are working in readymade garment factory. Out of four million of garment workers 3.5 millions are women.
These 3.5 millions get very poorsalary; they work in a bad working condition, but it has made a tremendous women empowerment in Bangladesh. It has changed the bottom line of the society. Before this garment uprising in Bangladesh, only educated middle class women were eligible for working in office or factory. Once Bangladesh had a large number of jute industry but women were not eligible to work there. Readymade garment industry has changed that situation and impact of it, now a huge number of women work in agricultural sector. So, now a huge number of women in Bangladesh can sow their hope in their own way. They can take the decision in their own way; even they have the same priority in decision making of their family. This big change has come through the garment industry in Bangladesh. It is the social impact of the garment industry in Bangladesh on the other hand; its economical impact is huge in Bangladesh economy. Bangladesh earns more than $20 billion in a year. It is helping to change the economy of Bangladesh.
But after an awful death of one thousand garment workers; it is a million dollar question that is it possible to continue the garment industry in Bangladesh in such a poor working condition? It is very impossible. Government of Bangladesh has started to take action against the poor working condition. They have already closed fourteen industries for their poor working condition. Government has closed the fourteen factories but is there any magic stick in the hand of the government that can help to improve the working condition of the garment factory in Bangladesh? Its answer is no, because garment sector is a private sector and its main capital is low cost labor.Bangladesh can maintain low cost but the rich countries have to think how low they want? They are saying if Bangladesh does not improve the working condition and spreads the facility of the workers, they will not buy the product. They are claiming Bangladesh is violating the human rights. They are giving many types of pressure, but they have another duty to see the other side of the coin. What their famous companies are behaving with Bangladesh? They do not increase their price according to the world market even they do not pay properly. Sometimes they violated their contract regarding payment mode.But as a poor country, and in a competitive market, the garment owners of Bangladesh have to take it easily.
So, after this unpleasant incident and the death of thousand workers now it’s the time to come to a point for international buyers, garment owners and the government of Bangladesh that, how they will manage the good working condition of the workers. In the meantime, the poor works of Bangladesh, who were called by the Pope slaves,have given more blood. So, now it’s the time to stop more bloodshed. It is time to find out how the good working condition of garments factory in Bangladesh will be ensured. Who will pay for it?
Swadesh Roy, Executive Editor, The Daily Janakantha,Dhaka, Bangaldesh