The situation remains uneasy in Bangladesh, where several huge protests led to two casualties. Plenty of people still protest against the low wages and awful working conditions for textile workers.
Workers want wages like in surrounding countries
The textile workers want pay equal to what other Asian textile-exporting countries pay. According to the International Labour Organization Indian minimum wage is 52 euro, while Sri Lanka has 54, Vietnam 58 and Cambodia 59 euro. Only Myanmar has lower wages than Bangladesh, where on average 39 euro is paid a month according to the ILO.
Earlier this month, the government has asked to increase the minimum wage from 1 December onwards, from 3,000 taka (29 euro) to 5,300 taka (51 euro).
Serious safety issues in factories
It has also become apparent that the Bengal factories have some serious safety issues. The Rana Plaza disaster in April, with more than 1,100 casualties, resulted in American Walmart asking inspection agency Veritas to check the 200 factories it used. Research has shown that 32 did not adhere to the minimum safety requirements for possible fires. There were also severe electrical issues.
The Bengal textile industry employs some 4 million people, mainly women. It represents 80 % of Bangladesh’s export, with plenty of large American and European brands using the local industry for their products.
(Translated by Gary Peeters)