AWAJ Foundation, Dhaka, an NGO, is advocating a change in the way garment industry looks at the workers, especially women, and Nazma Akter, Founder of the foundation is spearheading that mission; a mission that calls for ‘women economic empowerment and decent working conditions’.
Akter, while speaking at the recently concluded Dhaka Apparel Summit in Bangladesh, asserted that the Rana Plaza collapse of 2013 did lead to closure of several factories that were deemed unsafe and also introduction of Government labour reforms, yet low income, lack of women in trade unions and also in senior management are some of the major challenges that still persist in Bangladesh garment industry.
She was extremely critical of the way women working in garment and textile industry are treated. “Women in the garment sector face various problems. The Government and the suppliers should be more accountable to them,” underlined Akter.
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While talking of increasing worker’s pay in the garment industry, the Founder said workers get only US $ 0.7 for a t-shirt sold at US $ 20 abroad. Multinational companies get US $ 17 and the rest goes to the suppliers and others. “Nothing is cheap. Someone has to pay and that is our workers,” remarked Akter, who strongly demanded decent working conditions and living wages for the garment workers.
She further added that Bangladesh is the second biggest apparel supplier in the world but workers get wages which are even lower than that of Myanmar.