Background information on the movement of garment workers in Bangladesh


by Amirul Haque Amin

The garments sector became the biggest industrial sector in Bangladesh. Its earns highest foreign currency (about 76% of the total export ) for Bangladesh. There are 3200 garment factories in Bangladesh and 1.6 million workers are working in this sector.80% are women. USA, Canada and European countries are the main importer of Bangladeshi garments products.

The working condition of garments are worst and inhuman. Factories do not have sufficient sanitation system and water supply. Working place is crowd and noisy. Owners are habituated not to give the workers appointment letter/contact letter. They do not maintain service book. Workers do not have Job security. There are Labour laws but owners do not follow these. Garment workers are the lowest paid workers in Bangladesh. Government had declared minimum wage in 1994 tk 930 $17.06 per month but till now workers receive minimum wage tk 800 $ 14.67. Lows permit to receive the monthly wages within 7th of the next month but most of the cases there are no fixed date even in some cases there are 3/4 months delay in monthly payment. Most of the cases workers do not get medical leaves, weekly holiday, maternity leaves and festival leaves. There is no provident fund, gratuity, medical facilities, transportation facilities or housing. There are discrimination in wage and dignity for women workers. Human rights, ILO conventions, Women rights, Trade union rights, and labour laws are violated. Most of the cases workers work 7 days in a week and more over they forced to work 80 to 100 hours in a week.

NGWF is an independent, progressive trade union federation of garment workers. The federation was established in 1984. There are 28 plant unions are affiliated with the NGWF and have 931 factory committees. From 1984 NGWF is involved with all the important movement of garments workers in the whole country including several strikes.

1. Insure the fair wages.
2. Establish workers rights and human rights.
3. Establish the equal wage and dignity of the women workers.
4. Improve the bad working conditions.
5. Change this bad society.

1. Unite the garment workers.
2. Form the plant unions.
3. Initiate and conduct the countrywide movement for the garment workers.
4. Support, co-operate and initiate the plant based movements.
5. Educate and train the garment workers.
6. Educate and train the women workers.
7. Provide Legal aids.
8. Publicise the workers paper and other materials.

Total 20,000. Women 11,100 men 8900. Whole structure run by the workers participation and democratic system.

In solidarity
Amirul Haque Amin
General Secretary, NGWF