Bangladesh garment industry has been at the heart of the country's export boom ever since the first factory opened in 1976. The industry has grown dramatically over the past 35 years, and today accounts for 80% of Bangladesh total exports. There are now 4,825 garment factories in Bangladesh employing over three million people. Fully 85% of these workers are women. The expansion of the garment industry in Bangladesh was fuelled by the structural economic reforms of the sass, which opened up the Bangladesh economy to foreign investment, deregulation of markets and prevarication.
The Bangladesh government established tax holidays and the development of export enclaves enabling businessmen to build or rent bonded warehouses in Dacha and Chitchatting cities. This process was accompanied by a massive increase of capital inflows into the country. Foreign direct investment leapt from a mere $2. 4 million in 1986 to more than $1,000 million in 2008. 1 Today, one third of foreign direct investment comes from European companies, principally from the I-J. Young women are the driving force of the Bangladesh garment sector.
Of the 988 women workers interviewed for this report, 86% were between 18 and 32 years old. It s these young women who provide the hard labor needed to meet the unrealistic production targets set by Bangladesh garment factories. Employers claim that older workers perform more poorly and make more mistakes, and that this is why they favor younger women workers. As many as 83% of the women workers interviewed for this report are employed as sewing operators, and nearly 10% as 'helpers'. I nest are ten lowest pal Sods In ten Industry.
Women in both positions undertake manual work and their level of education is low: of the 988 interviewees, Just 22% had obtained their higher secondary certificate. Although en represent Just 15% of the workforce in the garment industry, they perform the better paid Jobs such as general managers, production managers, line managers and supervisors. This illustrates the gendered division of labor within the industry, with women only able to access lower paid Jobs. The Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees equal rights to women and men, and national laws are in place to safeguard women's rights.
One example is the 2006 Bangladesh Labor Law, which protects the fundamental rights of women workers, including the right to maternity leave. 2 At the international level, Bangladesh has ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAR), as well as ILL Convention 111 on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation. The reality is that, despite such legislation, women workers' rights are ignored. Women workers perform poorly paid Jobs, face severe labor rights violations and do not enjoy their legal entitlements.
Statutory maternity rights are rarely provided, overtime is compulsory and excessively long working days add to the burden of domestic responsibilities, denying women any rest periods or time with their children. The growth of Bangladesh garment industry has been characterized by low wages, poor enforcement of labor legislation and the availability of a large pool of unskilled women workers. While some have viewed the fenestration' of the garment sector as a positive step towards women's emancipation, this has only happened in a highly exploitative context.
This report seeks to expose the continuing violation AT women workers' relents the Bangladesh garment industry, and to highlight the struggle of the many thousands of women who have defied oppression to fight for their rights. Stitched Up Women workers in the Bangladesh garment sector Bangladesh garment inns a result of sustained campaigning by women workers and other trade unionists in Bangladesh, the minimum wage for garment workers was raised in 2010 for the first time in four years. Receipt of wages in the garment industry depends on meeting an assigned production target.
If production targets are met, a sewing operator's salary now starts at 3,861 take (approximately EYE) a month and a helper's wage at 3,000 take (EYE) a month. Even with the new increases, however, these wages fall far short of the level which is considered to be a living wage - that is, enough to allow a worker to provide her Emily with basic human necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, water, health, education and transport. 3 Trade unionists in Bangladesh calculate the living wage for a single worker to be at least 5,000 take (EYE) a month.
According to the women workers interviewed for this research, the average monthly household expenditure for a family of four is higher still, and far in excess of the new minimum wage levels introduced 2010: According to Bangladesh law, workers are supposed to work an eight-hour shift. However, garment workers are forced to put in extra hours on a daily basis in order o meet unrealistic production targets set by factory owners. The wages of 96% of the garment workers interviewed for this report are dependent on meeting production targets.
Yet extra hours worked to meet production targets are not considered overtime, and are therefore unpaid. Employers claim production targets are achievable in an eight-hour shift, but 64% of the women workers interviewed stated that targets are unrealistic within the legal working time, while 75% of workers interviewed themselves fail to meet their targets within the time allotted. One in three of those interviewed reported working n extra 11-20 hours per month in order to meet targets and thereby guarantee their basic salary, while 23% work 21-30 hours extra.
In addition to this unpaid overtime, the majority of women need to work further paid overtime in order to meet basic needs such as housing or rising food costs. Of the 32% work a massive 100-140 hours of overtime every month, while 30% work 60- 100 hours and 14% less than 40 hours. Fully 80% of women workers leave their factory between pm and pm each evening after starting work at am, infringing Bangladesh labor law, which states that under no circumstances should daily working hours exceed 10 hours.
Given that the majority of workers have a one hour return Journey in the evening, most women arrive home late at night - at which point they have to begin their daily domestic chores. To compound this injury, factory owners cut overtime pay whenever they can. Reasons Overworked and undergraduates AAAS a result of sustained campaigning by women workers and other trade a kneeler wage at Employers claim production targets are work a massive 100-140 noirs AT As a result of sustained campaigning are supposed to work an Elgin-nor isn't hours extra. In addition to this unpaid overtime, the UT overtime pay whenever they can.
Reasons given for these deductions include lack of punctuality, failure to meet production targets, unnecessary conversation with co-workers, absence without leave, making mistakes at work or protesting management echelons. However, tense Is no provision In the Labor Law for fining workers for such reasons. Whatever the pretexts for the overtime deduction, the ultimate goal is to lower workers' wages. Our research shows that 243 out of 988 workers experienced overtime deductions in the past month alone. Female workers are cheated more often than men, as they re seen as more docile and less ready to protest.
Almost all the women interviewed for this report have experienced overtime deduction at some time in the past: 447 on the pretext that they had failed to meet production targets, 368 because of 'mistakes' during work and 314 for arriving to work late. It should also be noted that only 37% of the workers interviewed for this report had received letters of appointment, while 68% had factory identity cards. These are legal requirements that serve as evidence of employment and form the legal framework enabling workers to claim their basic labor sights such as the right to receive a wage and payment for overtime.