Losing thousands of young workers…

We have witnessed Rana Plaza collapse, the worst disaster in the history of industrialization. On the 4th anniversary of this industrial catastrophe, students have expressed their thoughts and concerns on worker safety with New Age Youth.

 

What do you think our government and civil society should do to address the workers safety concerns in garment factories where the majority of our country’s youth work?

 

Nabila Ahmed

Age-21

University of Asia Pacific

NabilaIndustrial workers drive the economic growth of our country. Bangladesh is known as one of the world’s leading ready-made garments exporters. There are or more than 3.6 million of garment industry workers out of our total population who are working for our development, but in return they are not getting enough facilities and security. Rana Plaza collapse reminds us the dark sides of ‘cheap Cloth.’ Now this is the time to stand together, holding hands to build a secure and deserving work place for our industrial fighters.

Our government should enact effective and unbiased investigations into all workers accusations. Our labour law should be revised to ensure it is in line with international labour laws. Regular factory inspections need to take place to ensure that all the companies are maintaining or following labour laws. In brief, we need to pay deep attention to our industrial workers. Only then our dream to see beloved Bangladesh as an economically developed country in the map of the world would be fulfilled.

 

Abid Sarker Shohag

Age 23

Activist, Young filmmaker

AbidLet’s not forget that Rana Plaza tragedy is the second largest man-made disaster after the infamous 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre since the World War II. While post- 9/11 ‘war on terror’ changed the world negatively, we had the opportunity to change the world of Bangladeshi workers positively. Though following the Rana Plaza tragedy, international outrage forced some measures to ensure workplace security and the overall minimum wages have been increased at least on paper. But those changes haven’t made much of an impact for workers. As the minimum wages are still not anywhere near of those middle-income countries Bangladeshi politicians crave to become. The hope of a democratic workplace still remains an unrealised dream. Traditional tools for asserting workers rights like trade unions, strikes, collective bargaining have yet to be fulfilled. So, the government should work on these basic labour right issues with the profit-hungry ‘BGMEA Big Fishes.’

 

Kamruz Jaman

Age 22

National University

KamruzIt was just a few days ago that marked the fourth anniversary of tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse. More than 1,000 workers were killed. After that disaster, Bangladesh initiated labour reforms that promised to simplify the unionisation process for the workers of its vast garment industry. Following the Rana Plaza tragedy, international outrage prompted new regulations to address, at least on paper, the profound lack of basic labour protections for the garment- industry workforce. But those changes haven’t made much of an impact for workers, because the owner is always looking for their profit. Last December, hundreds of workers and labour activists clashed with owners of the Ashulia manufacturing facility outside Dhaka following a massive strike that affected some 59 different factories. That situation has effectively allowed the global supply chain to override sovereign democracy. For a better environment of work, regular factory inspections need to be occurred to secure all the companies are maintaining or following labour laws. Without proper step by the government to secure a safe environment for workers, Bangladesh dream to be economically developed will remain in the dark.  It’s interlinked because it’s all a matter of labour and workers.

 

Nahid Tasnia Jahan Reya

Age 22

Jahangirnagar University

NahidAt what cost are we wearing our clothes? At what cost are Westerners wearing their latest fashion accessories? Every year April 24 comes with bitterness and sadness to us. We lost 11 hundred people due to total disregard of safety and the vicious cycle of capitalistic world. Tazreen Fashion Factory, Rana Plaza-these are the extreme reaction of the system of making more and more profits by the profit-hungry capitalists. One might think, okay, as Rana Plaza Tragedy happened they might profit less that year. Interestingly it is quite the opposite. That year (2013) global fashion industry had profited the most till date. From that year global fashion industry accumulated approximately three trillion dollar. Because of the sense of competition, big brands are pushing for lower production cost. Thus, garment workers are getting less paid for more work. The garment owners compel to complete the projects in lower cost due to fear of losing the project whole together. So, the life of garments workers have become just another commodity which one can glance at supermarket and walk right past it without any kind of consideration. On the other hand, the extreme consumption of clothes results a huge chaos in the landfill. These clothes emit harmful gases and chemicals. Our workers are risking their lives to earn their bread. That is totally unacceptable. To get more but mere 10-20 cent profit, buyers are risking the working condition of the workers! This injustice should be stopped immediately. And the system of pension, health-care for the common people should be ensured for the greater good of this country. Buyers must recognise the need of labour capital and should take necessary steps to enhance the quality of living condition of the workers. It is high time that government took proper steps to exercise diplomatic skills to develop the economic infrastructure of RMG sector of Bangladesh.

 

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