|Cramped working conditions|
some "not so" beautiful images of the RMG in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital
Many garment workers have to endure cramped, unhealthy working conditions and extremely long hours with forced overtime. Health & Safety regulations are routinely ignored by management and are hardly enforced by government (many politicians have business interests in the industry); factory fires break out on a bi-monthly basis. Most are smaller incidents with regular injuries but fewer deaths, but over 240 workers have died in major fires since 1990. This in top of the 1,129 workers who perished in the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013 and the 2,500 who sustained injuries. Many garment workers are malnutritious due to low income, living hand to mouth in slum areas on the outskirts of the city.
|Rescue operation at the Rana Plaza, Savar, Dhaka|
Factory bosses explain the preference for employing a higher % of Bangladeshi women because they are seen as being more docile in temperament than men. This is a reflection of the gender roles and cultural conditioning of the wider society, and the fact that women have few other economic choices, means they more likely to stick at the job.
Many garment workers have experienced of fires in the workplace, many will have sustained injuries, lost friends and work-mates - and all know that this is due to bosses greed and negligence.
|Garment workers demonstrate|
During the riots which followed the Rana Plaza incident, the regular use of fire by garment workers in their struggles against their employers should be understood within this context. Garment workers have often burned down factories in retaliation for non-payment of wages, lockouts or management brutality. The various supply chains of the RMG industry from fly-by-night operations quickly set up with a few machines and a small workforce, to hi-tech factories employing thousands, all rely on the culture of cheap, casual employment to ensure the fast delivery of orders. Despite the changes implemented after the Rana Plaza diaster, International buyers from global retail chains continue to exert pressure for low prices and in recent statements have expressed no willingness to absorb the cost of wage rises, but only to help factories 'increase productivity'.