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Bangladeshi Workers Sure Are Thankful That Our Beneficent Corporations Are Providing Them Great Jobs!

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Why it’s almost like we should ask Bangladeshi workers what they want and fight to help them rather than talk about all the great benefits western companies bring to Bangladesh through their low wage, exploitative jobs!

Bangladesh garment manufacturers have sacked at least 1,500 workers, police said Tuesday, after protests over pay led to a week-long shutdown at dozens of factories supplying top Western brands.

Tens of thousands of workers walked out of factories in the manufacturing hub of Ashulia that make clothing for top Western brands like GAP, Zara and H&M earlier this month, prompting concerns over supply during the holiday season.

Police branded the protests illegal and said they had arrested 30 workers including seven union leaders as well as a television reporter covering the unrest.

On Tuesday, they said factory owners had sacked around 1,500 workers and resumed operations, a week after shutting down to try to contain the protests.

What do these workers want?

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has rejected the workers’ demand for their pay to be trebled from the current minimum monthly wage of 5,300 taka ($67).

Babul Akhter, head of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, accused authorities of using a controversial military-era law to shut down the protests.

“They used (the) Special Powers Act to detain union leaders and workers,” he told AFP.

“Up to 3,500 workers have been sacked and 50 leaders have gone into hiding.”

The Ashulia police chief said only those involved in violent protest had been arrested.

How reassuring.

It’s very easy to sit in the United States or Britain or another wealthy world nation, look at Bangladesh from 30,000 feet and say “The apparel industry is bringing so much to this poor nation!” But doing so also allows westerners to ignore the massive oppression these workers face, painting globalization not even as complicated, but as a moral good, with those who question its value demonized as inhuman monsters.

Instead, what we should do is recognize some of the benefits of globalization while also demanding that American companies accept the basic rights that Bangladeshi workers are fighting for, such as a living wage. Moreover, we need to demand that these companies pay living wages throughout their supply chains no matter where they move. Otherwise, those companies may well respond to rising wages in Bangladesh by moving to some other nation, as they have done over and over and over again, especially in the apparel industry. These workers have actual demands. Let’s try to ensure that the products we buy are made in decent conditions that empower workers.

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