50,000 Bangladeshi garment workers strike over ‘inhuman’ wages
Sep. 22 2013
Tens of thousands of garment workers have downed tools and taken to the streets to urge the government for an increase in the minimum salary.
4 million employees work in the country’s $20-billion garment export industry - 60 percent goes to Europe - and earn about $38 a month. They are demanding a raise to $103 a month.
Earlier, the Bangladeshi government agreed to a 20 percent increase, but the workers called the raise "inhuman and humiliating."
"Our backs are against the wall, so we don’t have any alternative unless we raise our voice strongly," Nazma Akter, president of the United Garments Workers’ Federation told protesters.
"We will not hesitate to do anything to realize our demand. We are not the object of mercy, the economy moves with our toll," Reuters reported her as saying.
“The rally lasted four hours and has been the largest gathering of its kind to realize their demand for raising wages,” according to Dhaka Metropolitan Police Chief Habibur Rahman.
Over 300 factories near the capital closed as employees staged a walk-out, blocking a highway and damaging a few cars.
The highway was blocked by at least 10,000 employees, according to local police. Several nearby factories were also vandalized by the protesters, which caused a halt in production.
Meanwhile, the country’s leadership has been negotiating with the demonstrators and the factory owners. The factory owners are strictly against the raise, because their Western customers are used to buying cheap clothing from them.
The last time the government increased the minimum salary was in 2010, when they almost doubled it.
In July, Bangladesh gave a boost to workers’ rights, after a factory building collapse three months earlier leaving over 1,100 people dead. Furthermore, In June, hundreds of workers were rushed to hospital after drinking contaminated water.
Bangladesh is also facing pressure from the EU, which threatened the country with sanctions, unless workers’ safety standards are improved.
“What are the images the mainstream media showed us of what a protester looks like and wears? How do police use our physical appearances in an attempt to repress our voices and to manipulate fear in the public eye? And more generally, what does our clothing say about our beliefs? What clothing marks us as politicized, subversive, as challenging authority?”
– Revisiting the politics of protest | À l’allure garçonnière
It’s rare that a protest movement affects the way thousands of people get dressed, but the strike has done just that, turning the red square into both a symbol of solidarity and, for some, a conscious fashion statement.
Read “Seeing Red” by our Montreal Wornette, Sacha Jackson, on the WORN blog.
Lookit who it is!
click on the link to read the full article! these are really great portraits with a nice article. my friend salima punjani took some photos on june 22nd here in quebec city and the lip red square came up more than a few times:
i’ve been finding it really compelling to see how people have adopted the red square here in quebec. after years of recycled ribbons for various causes, it’s refreshing to see a lot of creativity coming out of this movement. if it draws more attention to the cause at the end of the day, and gets more people thinking critically, i think that’s amazing.
bing bing bang bing by benoit tardif (available as a t-shirt here)
note: many news reports refer to the “casseroles” protests as unique to montreal (the province’s largest city). it is essential to note this has been happening around the province, and did not originate in quebec (the cacerolazo are believed to have originated in the early 1970s in chile protesting against salvador allende’s government). there’s an interactive map on google maps where people can contribute locations where they’ve heard the casseroles protests.
“You can’t win with them: no protest will ever be peaceful enough, docile enough, non-threatening enough to suit their wishes. Expressions of anger against the status quo will always be called disruptive, even violent. Meanwhile, we live in a system that privileges the accumulation of capital over the value of human life, and oppresses us according to our gender, race, ability, age, or class in order to sustain that accumulation. This system enacts daily violence on both those who defy it and those who simply live within it. This violence may be physical – such as the police brutality, surveillance, and disproportionate arrests experienced by student protestors and also by communities of colour, queer communities, and others on a routine basis. Or it may be less tangible but equally destructive, such as the effects of being systematically excluded from higher education, higher-paying jobs, and the possibility of economic “success.””
– Mona Luxion, quoted in Resistance is not violence: putting property damage and economic disruption in perspective at the McGill Daily (April 28th, 2012)
Interview with an Anarchist
“The veil in front of your eyes is much more dangerous than the veil on my hair.”
The sign of protester in France in reference to the law which places a ban on face veils.
Flawless people. I can’t with this world. I just CANNOT. I want to cry. This world. What is wrong with you people. These women can’t walk down the streets of their own country, go to school, to the groceries dressed the way they want to because they’ll be fined, it’s illegal, they’ll be sent to re-education classes. Their own country. If you are a Muslim you will be judged instantly, you can’t walk down a street, can’t walk into an airport, get into a plane, tell someone what you believe in without people telling you’re a terrorist, without being judged, without being ostracized. This is what we live with everyday. Who gave you the right to tell these women what to wear and what not to wear? No one. So stop it.
has anyone read any good feminist analysis of this fuckery/islamophobia masquerading as “liberation” happening in france? i read this too at the daily what but i’d love to read a critical analysis…
This is true.
currently working on a political panel about protest in north africa/middle east… i like this.