Capital Accumulation through class repression and co- modification of labour: A case study of selected Readymade Garment workers in Dhaka City
1.1 Background of the study:
The readymade garment industry of Bangladesh has grown dramatically over recent years and accounts for largest source of export earnings. Based on the principles of free market economy, globalization and catching up, Bangladesh has been to pursue the strategy of export oriented industrialization. Bangladesh has been emerging as a RMG exporter country since the late 1970s. But, in pre-British India the fine Muslim industry was very popular. The story fine Muslim and its destruction is not unknown. In the end of 17th century export of silk and cotton was profitable business for East India Company. The classical form of textiles and apparels dated back to 18th to 19th century, British colonialism. But the modern form of these products developed at the end of world war 11 under the leadership of united state. Today, many LDCs where capital is scarce and labour in abundant, RMG industry has developed as leading export earning sector. RMG industry has provided unprecedented wage employment opportunities for people 3.5 million people 85% of them are women. But workers are vulnerable by obtaining low wage and facing unfavorable working condition. Where national bourgeoisie (the owners of RMG industry) try to maximize. Profit by exploiting cheap labour. Global post faradism has been seen as a strategy to weaken subordinate classes in society. While tracing the history of garment workers movement, trade union movement is not done by labour, but the leader of political party, trade union leaders. There is no strong platform of labour movement in Bangladesh to realize the demand of workers in a peaceful way.
1.2 Statement of the problem:
Readymade garment workers are vulnerable obtaining low wage and unfavorable working condition. But they contribute greatly for profit making of national bourgeoisie.
1.3 Significance of the study:
Readymade garment is one of the export earning sectors of Bangladesh. It provides employment for millions of people. Cheap labour, feminization of labour etc are main advantages for the development of RMG industry in Bangladesh. But RMG owners are exploitation labour by giving them low wage and harassment. This research is important to know the real condition of RMG workers in our country.
1.4 Objectives of the study:
- To examine how commodification of labour leads to accommodation of capital.
- To find out real senario RMG workers of Bangladesh.
- To show the relationship between owners and worker classes of RMG industry.
1.5 Research questions:
1. How capital is accumulated through class repression and commodification of labour in RMG industry.
2. How owners victimize workers?
3. What makes garment workers more vulnerable?
1.6 Limitation of the study :
i. Any research should have representative size of sample but it could not be done for lack of time and money.
ii. Many respondents were reluctant to answer these questions as ked by the researcher.
iii. Because of lack of time, the researcher could not read through many books and journals written about the issue.
Review of Literature
2.1 Global overview of RMG Industry :
‘The globalization of the economy has benefited countries that took advantage of it by seeing new markets for their exports and by welcoming foreign investment (Stilts, 2002: 253). Almost every country, irrespective of its stage of development, is involved in garment manufacturing and trading. Globalization in its modern form, thus was developed under the direct patronage and planning of the USA, which became the world’s hegemonic power after second world war (Harvey, 2005; Giddens, 2000). America offered extensive aid and grant programs in Japan in 1950s. With direct financial assistance from America using us raw cottons, soon Japan began producing cotton textiles (Rosen, 2002).
Rosen (2002) not that, many US apparel companies established their own firms in Japan in the late 1950s utilizing low cost Japanese labour. From the early 1960s, the ‘Big three’ of East Asia Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, became the hub of world clothing industry including textile industry (Siddiqi, 2004). Rahman (2001), suggests that, if the classical form of internationalization of capital was rooted in the 16th-18th century trade capitalism and 18th-20th century colonial-industrial capitalism, the modern form of globalization surely emerged after the second world war. Therefore since in the 1980s, the world has experienced an ever speeding process of internationalization of capital in textile and apparel industries. From 1980s to 1990s, various us governments and third world countries, such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) in 1993, AGOA, EAI etc. Majumder and Begum (2006), suggested that development in the modern world calls for the ‘catching up’ in the production of technology. Based on the principles of ‘free-market’ economy, globalization and ‘catching up’ the major programmes in the industrial sector of many LDCs have been to pursue the strategy of Export Oriented Industrialization (EOI).
Flexibility, feminization of labour, the relocation of capital etc are majour strategies found in the Fordist reginee, Rahman 2011 stated that, Today gaint western manufactures and the powerful apparel retailers import large volumes of RMG products from different parts of the majority world, by direct imports from developing countries or by outsourcing or sub contracting from developing countries sweatshops.
2.2 Readymade garment industry and Bangladesh :
Rahman (2011) suggests that, Bangladesh has been emerging as a RMG exporter country since the late 1970s and gradually it has become a leading apparel exporting country in the world. Presently the RMG industry is the number one sector in Bangladesh in terms of its share of forcing currency earnings.
It also employs over three millions workers, most of whom are rural women. Among the factors that have contributed to Bangladesh’s emergence as a leading RMG export country are : low labour cost, feminization of labour, availability of labour, increasing demand of RMG products in foreign countries etc.
2.2.1 Growth and development of RMG industry in Bangladesh:
‘Based on the principles of ‘free-market’ economy’ ‘globalization’ and ‘catching up’, the major programmes in the industrial sector of Bangladesh have been to pursue the strategy of Export Oriented Industrialization EOI (Majumder and Begum; 2006 : 01). Growth of RMG industry have their origin with mechine based industries of India in British period.
‘The establishment of modern machine based industries in India during the period of the British rule played a significant role in consolidation of the national economy of the country. Further the growth of modern industries led to the emergence of such new social groups as the class of the bourgeoisie and that of the proletariat, two basic classes whose specific weight in the movement of contemporary society was found great even decisive (Desai, 1987 : 102). In 1879, there were 56 cotton mills in India. Between 1880 and 1895, though no important industries were established, the old industries registered an appreciable advance. Cotton and jute industries expanded during the war, as a result of the almost complete absence of foreign competition. The establishment of modern industries engendered two important classes of contemporary society the bourgeoisie and proletariat. Dannecker (2002), stated that, ‘the most important reason for the growth of RMG sector and the comparative advantage of Bangladesh is ‘the unlimited availability of unusually cheap but usable labour.
The workers can be employed at a very lowland of wages not only in comparison to other countries but also in comparison to other domestic industries in Bangladesh. Monthly minimum wage of RMG workers in China $ 300, India – $ 106, Srilanka- $ 92 etc. In the LDCs, capital is scarce and labour particularly female labour is abundant. Industrialization under import substitution strategy provides job opportunities only for skilled labour, which is supplied mostly by men (Majumder and Begum, 2006: 01). Rahman (2011), noted that the story of the development of the fine Muslim industry in Dhaka- in pre-British Bengal and its destruction clueing British colonial period is not unknown. Historically, after the destruction of the Muslim industry, Bangladesh lacked textile mills for a long time.
Siddiqi (2004 : 81) revealed that there were only 47 readymade garment firms in Bangladesh in 1982. The number of factories and workers continued to grow at a fast rate in the first decade of the twenty first century. By 2007-2008 the number of RMG factories was 4740, an increase of 31 percent over 2001-02. The RMG industry is over whelmingly concentrated in the Dhaka region where 90 percent of the factories are located.
2.3 Feminization of labour and exploitation :
Rahman (2011) stated that, the feminization of labour has become a hot issue since the 1950s and 1960s when the emerging Japanese and East Asian Textiles. Over whelmingly recruited young rural woman in their plants. The feminization of labour concept is very pertinent to the RMG industry in Bangladesh. From the beginning of the textiles and clothing industries, women were recruited for many reasons:
The image of the young and unmarried female factory worker with a rural background and lack of education and skills is predominant. Dannecker noted that majority of the women working in the garment sector are recent migrants who left their villages due to increasing landlessness and poverty. Majumder and Begum (2006) said that available studies on the garment workers indicated that garment workers specially the female garment workers, are often very young, unmarried, with little education, of rural origin, and from poor families.
Rahman (2011) suggested that, women’s softness, meekness, and allegent nature representing the concept of docility are very useful in so called sound industrial relations in terms of explicating and depriving women workers from their labour rights.
2.4 Capital accumulation through repression of RMG workers in Bangladesh:
‘Due to the supportive policies of the government, Bangladesh experienced significant growth of some export oriented industries during the past decade (Majumder and Begum; 2006 : 10). Readymade garment industry occupies the dominant position in the export manufacturing sector of Bangladesh. Rahman (2011) noted that, In the early 2000s seventy six percent of foreign currency was earned by the RMG sector. But it is unthinkable that, many Bangladeshi RMG industry owners exploit the poor workers absolutely violating the national and international laws. Workers are vulnerable obtaining law wages and facing unhealthy working environment. Garment workers are paid lowest wages in comparison to most of the other workers employed in Bangladesh. Cheap labour and extreme exploitation is the main source of high profit in RMG sector.
Owners are dilly- dallying in implementing the new wage structure, filing case against workers without any evidence, shutting the factories for an indefinite period without paying the workers their dues (New Age, 2010: 3). Majumder and Begum (2006) found that, overtime work curtails workers leisure and sleeping time significantly. In garment industry, women are the worst suffers from the uncongenial working conditions since they hold the low paid and low skilled job where occupational hazards are greater. The workers involved with trade union face retrenchment, harassment, intimidation and even threat to murder. The factory management often armed a Masan Group to drive out the union
A theoretical framework includes many formal or substantive theories. In this research Marx’s theory of capitalism is discussed.
3.1 Wage labour and capital :
Wages are the sum of many paid by the capitalist for a particular labour time or for a particular output of labour. The capitalist, therefore buys their labour with money. Wages are, therefore, not the worker’s share in the commodity produced by him. Labour power is, therefore a commodity which its possessor, the wage-worker, sells to capital (Marx 1970: 74). Why does he sell it? In order to live. He works in order to live.
Labour power was not always a commodity. Labour was not always wage labour, that is, free labour. The slave did not sell his labour power to the slave owner. The slave, together with his labour power, is sold once and for all to his owner.
He is a commodity which can pass from the hand of owner to that of another. he is himself a commodity, but the labour power is not his commodity. Competition occurs between buyers and sellers, the former desire to buy as cheaply as possible, the latter to sell as dearly as possible. Capital is therefore, not only a sum of material products, it is a sum of commodities, of exchange values, of social magnitudes. The workers receives means of subsistence in exchange for his labour power. Real wages express the price of labour in relation to the price of other commodities. Wages are not the worker’s share in the commodity produced by him. Wages are the part of already existing commodities with which the capitalist buys for himself a definite amount of productive labour power.
3.2 The so-called primitive Accumulation of capital :
The process by which the capitalist mode of production became established, a process conditioned by the spontaneous operation of objective economic laws, wage, significantly accelerated by forcible measures during the period of what Marx called the “primitive accumulation of capital” (Kozlove: 53). ‘The so called primitive accumulation’s nothing else than the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production. It appears as primitive, because it forms the pre-historic stage of capital and of the mode of production corresponding with if’ (Marx, 1974 : 668).
The process of so called primitive shows the enormous role played by force and coercion in the birth of capitalist mode of production. The development of a man of people deprived of means of production or any means of subsistence and the accumulation of wealth in the hands of individuals who latter became capitalists.
The capitalist system pre-supposes the complete separation of the labourers from all poperty in the means by which they can realise their labour. The immediate producer, the labourer, could only dispose of his own person after he had ceased to be attached to the social and ceased to be the slave, serf or bondman of another. To become a free seller of labour power, who carries his commodity wherever he kinds a market, he must further has escaped from the regime of guilds, journeyman, and the impediments of their labour regulations.
The first condition of capital accumulation is that the capitalist must have contrived to sell his commodities and to reconverts into capital, the greater part of the money so received. Employing surplus values as capital, reconverting it into capital, is called accumulation of capital (Marx; 1954 : 579). Accumulation of capital is the process by which capitalism expands by employing labour to create surplus value in order to create new capital, which in turn is used to create further surplus value and further new capital leading, in the long run, to a continuous increase in the overall value of capital. The original conversion of a sum of values into capital was achieved in complete accordance with the law of exchange. On party to the contrast sells his labour power, the other buy it. The former receives the value of his commodity, who use value is thereby alienated to the buyers.
The worker has received a payment for the exchange value of his labour power. Nevertheless the result is-
i) The product belongs to the capitalist, and not to the worker.
ii) That the value of this product includes, besides the value of the capital advanced a surplus value which cost the worker labour but the capitalist nothing.
iii) The worker has retained his labour power and can sell it a new if he find a buyer (Marx 1954)
The wealth of those societies in which capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as an immerse accumulation of commodities. In capitalist society the workers are nominally free to work for any employer as they please, but are compelled by need to work for the owners of the means of production. The owners pay their workers just enough to provide for their needs in return for their work which not only covers that cost, but produces surplus value in the shape of goods and commodities which are sold for the owner’s profit.
The worker sinks to the level of a commodity and becomes indeed the most wreathed of commodities and the necessary result of competition is the accumulation of capital in few hands, and thus the restoration of monopoly in a more terrible form.
3.3 Bourgeoisie and proletariat :
On the earlier epics of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various order, a manifold gradation of social rank. The modern bourgeoisie society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society. It has established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new form of struggle in place of old ones. Society is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps into two great classes, directly facing one another. Bourgeoisie and proletariat (Mary, 1954 : 36). The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. All old established national industries have been destroyed or daily being destroyed. In proportion as the bourgeoisie capital is developed in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class developed, a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work and who find who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. Modern industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capital. Thus the whole historical movement is concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie, every victory so obtained is a victory for bourgeoisie. But with the development of industry the proletariat not only increases in number, it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows and it feels that strength more. The growing competition among the bourgeoisie and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of workers ever more fluctuating.
Within the capitalist system- all means for the development of production transforms themselves into means of domination over and exploitation of the producers. The worker produces commodities, out of these commodities capital is created and it comes to dominate the worker. Four aspects of alienation:
a) From products of own labour : Commodities produced by labour are taken away from the worker and sold and labour itself becomes a commodity. This produces wealth for the capitalist, but poverty for the worker.
b) From the process of production : The products is separated from the worker, the act of production is active alienation.
c) From humanity and human potential : The worker becomes a slave of the object and the worker’s physical subject becomes identified with working and as a worker.
d) From other person : A direct consequence of the alienation of man from the product of his labour from his life activity and from his species- life, is that man is alienated from other men. The problem of alienation, which arises whenever the worker produces the surplus value for which he is exploited by the owner- employer.
3.4 Marx theory of capitalism and class conflict :
In capitalist society the capitalist exploits this labour by employing it to produce items for sale- commodities in return for a wage. But this wage is less than the value of the production which their effort has created. Capitalist profits are made by the employer taking or ‘appropriating’ this newly created value. This Marx class ‘surplus value’. In capitalist societies most people cannot make a living without selling their labour. (Webster; 1990:66)
4.1 Qualitative methodology :
Methodology is the vital part of research design. In this study qualitative methodology is used. Qualitative research is not pre-structured by hypothesis. It’s aim is to study reality from insider perspective. It employees research procedure that produce descriptive data. Data collection and analysis is explained to gain an insight.
4.2 Date collection :
To collect data for the research, researcher selected garment factories of Dhaka. Garment workers of those selected garment factories were the study population.
4.3 Sampling :
Purposive sampling was used in research because of lack of time.
4.4 Data processing and analysis :
Data were collected with open ended questionnaire, as a result, answer were large and scatter. These answers were categorized in proper way. Data were presented as written discussion. Important themes were developed.
4.5 Ethical consideration :
Ethics is important for any research. Respondents were fully informed about the objectives of research. Privacy is strictly maintained here.
Findings of Case Studies
Name : Dulali (Female)
Age : 35
Marital Status : Married
Education : V
Income : 5,500 taka
Occupation : Garments worker
Dulali was a housewife now working in a garments factory. She migrated from Rajshahi district 3 years age, having only one daughter. She came Dhaka in search of job but maintain strong network with her kens. She spend 100 taka per day for food, living in a tin shed rent house, have to share combined kitchen and bathroom. She has to work from 8am to 8pm including overtime. But she has no savings. Her husband also works in another garments, but fails to manage all of their expenses. Moreover, Dulali shares many problems related to her job, such as heavy work burden, misbehave of the managers, inconsiderate attitudes towards her, unhealthy working environment, having no job contract etc. Owner of factory treats them to close the factory, if in any wrong can be done by workers.
Name : Ali Hassan (Male)
Age : 25
Marital Status : Married
Education : VIII
Income : 4,000 taka
Occupation : Garments worker
Ali Hasan was a rickshaw puller. Four years age he came to Dhaka from Jamalpur of find new occupation. He lives in a tinshed building and has to pay 1500 taka for house rent. He said that, it is very tough to manage his family with such a poor amount of money. With wife and one sons he lives in Mirpur slum area. His wife also works in another garments factory. They have to face problems such as-
no job security, no job contract, long and troublesome working hour and misbehave by the supervisor. Ali Hasan and his wife both feel increased about their future of their child and about their own life.
Name : Raihan (Male)
Age : 25
Marital Status : Married
Education : V
Income : 6,000 taka
Occupation : Garments worker
Raihan works in color style knitwear factory. He migrated from Barisal 5 years ago. Live in Mirpur slum areas. He is the only earning member of his family (A family members). He have to work from 8am to 9pm including overtime. He feels difficulty in managing family with such a small income, accompanied with many crisis such- residential problems, lack of medical facilities etc. He said that this salary is enough for me alone, but it is very difficult to manage family with this money. Raihan also feel in security for his job, because there is no job contract.
Name : Sumon (Male)
Age : 25
Marital Status : Married
Education : IX
Income : 6,000 taka
Sumon lives in Mirpur areas with another six family members including wife. One son, two sisters and parents. His two sisters also working in any garments factory, his father is a carpenter. His condition is comparatively good, because, he gets support from family. He came from Rangpur 6 years back in search of job. After getting job he brought other members, who exhausted all his income to support family. Long working hour, tension, heavy burden of duty, no job security are main problem encountered by him. He lives in a small tinshed room with little urban facilities.
Name : Rubna (Female)
Age : 20
Marital Status : Unmarried
Education : VIII
Income : 6,000 taka
Rubina a worker of colour style knitwear in Dhaka, who migrated from Patuakhali 3 years ago, due to proverty. She has to give up going school for lack of money. She lost her father when she was 10 years of age, her mother worked as maidservant. But when her mother became sick, she was compelled to come to Dhaka for searching livelihood. Her monthly expenditure 300 taka, she lives with other female workers in a match. She send’s money to her mother in village. But she faces many problems such as assault by supervisor or gate keeper, delaying in permitting leaves, long working hour etc. Including overtime, she works from sunrises to dusk.
She said that, I had dream to be educated, but my dreams did not turn in true, I am struggling for survival. Shanty house, dirty atmosphere, little urban facilities accompanied her living pattern.
Name : Rima (Female)
Age : 22
Marital Status : Married
Education : V
Income : 5,000 taka
Rima is a garments working in Maruhisha garments factory. Her husband Suruj Miah is rickshaw puller. They have two daughters live in village with their grand parents in Barisal. She and her husband live in a tin shed building in Mirpur, ‘According to her, I have to work from morning to right and I feel pain for my daughters, because there is no body to look after them in Dhaka so I keep them to my mother. They have to spend all of their income to manage expenditure for them and to send money for her daughter. Moreover, manager rebuked for any simple occurrence, delaying in payment for pre time, etc she is not aware about trade union.
Sonia (23) a married woman working as a sewing operator in Marusha garments factory and earned 6,000 taka including overtime. Rafique her husband is a driver, having only one son. She came to Dhaka from Kishoregonj seven years ago, for poverty. She lives in a tin shed building in Mirpur with son husband and mother in law. They spend almost all of their income for monthly expenditure / including food, house rent, medicine etc. But she said that I have to borrow money from my neighbor sometimes when I need money such as illness, special occasion etc. She also mentioned some problems, such as- delay in paying money for overtime. She has to tolerate assault for delay in arriving office occasionally and manager threat their to dismiss from job for any normal mistake. She is not aware about trade union. Depriving from daily necessities and urban facilities form a very disgusting livelihood.
Nasima (23) unmarried woman working in Marma Composite, getting 3800 taka per months, she has four sisters and mother. Hunger leads her to manage a job. Her another sister also work in this garments factory and they live in mess with the payment of 3,000 taka for residence and food. She and her sister send money to village in Mymanshing. She has to encounter some problems in work place such as, indecent proposal by supervisor in previous factory and she left that job and joined new once. She said sometimes life seem very painful and boring and I lose hope for life. Nasima is struggling daily with poor living facilitation, little citizen rights and pressure given by employers having no idea about labour organization.
The ready garment industry in Bangladesh employs around 3.5 million workers and accounts for 80 percent of the country’s export earnings.
6.1 Demographic characteristics of the workers :
Garment workers, particularly, the female garment workers, came from poor family and were motivated to join in job for economic crisis and poverty in family. Female garment workers are youthful because of their nimble fingers. Most of the workers having rural origin, from poor families, with little education studies showed that, most of them have no prior work experience. Most of the workers earn 3500-6000 taka per months, belonging from 18 to 35 years of ago. Workers are migrated from different part of the rural areas and working in garment factories in order to survive.
6.2 Exploitation of garment workers :
Rahman (2011) stated that for a long time the RMG industry in Bangladesh depended upon so called comparative advantage: cheap and abundant female labour Capitalists accumulate capital through dispossessing these workers by paying a very low wage and reckless working hours. RMG industries have developed through the exploitation profit. Workers in the industry are highly vulnerable obtaining low wage.
Majumder and Begum (2006) suggested that, in garment industry, women are the worst suffers from the uncongenial working conditions since they hold the low paid and low skilled job where occupational hazards are great with such a low wages, workers fail to manage expenditure for their survival. The garments industry is a 12 billion dollar industry, but on the contrary Bangladesh wage scale is the lowest in the world where the workers are working day in and out. White the garment factory owners earn around 43% profit out of the interest rate. Large scale unwillingness of the female garment workers is also partially attributable to their fear of harassment by the musclemen appointed by the employers. In the absence of the worker’s organizations the employers are often unable to establish a close and health relation with their workers. Garment employers often complain that workers are not aware about their behaviour in labour market. Fear of dismissal from job in the main reason what makes workers reluctant to join in trade union. Moreover, workers are not given healthy and favourable work environment by employers.
6.3 Access to urban utilities and living conditions of garment workers :
From the study, it is found that, most of the garment workers live in slum areas where living condition is very unhygienic, overcrowded and damp. Most of them live in tin shed buildings, having no separate toilet or bathroom, have to share with neighbors. In Dhaka city residential problems is acute, where majority of low income population live in slum areas. Garment workers who newly arrive in Dhaka city usually settle in hustle, crowded mess, in relative’s house and latter settle in slum areas, where citizen rights and urban facilities are not properly managed. Each and every garment workers in our case study reported that before coming in Dhaka, was lived in pure and healthy environment in village, which is completely absent in new residence. Unhealthy working and living condition, unhygienic atmosphere, polluted environment, low wage, limited opportunities, extreme work. Pressure lead to physical and mental unhappiness and discomfort turned into physical and mental disorder.
Scarcity of pure drinking water, fuel crisis etc are the part of their lives, where employers live in rich environment with every type of urban facilities. Lack of awareness education and training they usually drink water from WASHA without boiling. As a result most of them suffering from water born diseases and fail to do their duties properly and fall under pressure of employers.
“The passion of capital for an unlimited and reckless extension of the working day’ is first gratified in the industries earliest revolutionized by water power, steam and machinery, in those first creations of the modern mode of production, cotton, wool, flax and silk spinning and weaving’ (Marx Das Kapital, Vol-1).
Female garment workers face hostility from the society because of cultural rigidity, religious conservatism and taboos. Female garment workers are doubly vulnerable in society. They contributed in earning foreign currency, but having little benefit, they only manage to live hand to mouth, profit earned from their ‘friary finger’s. But they are only given minimum amount of wage only for their survival. Tough employers boosted in giving them freedom and self identity and ensure employment for millions of unskilled labour, who were absolutely in vulnerable position due their unemployment, hunger, poverty etc.
RMG industries have developed through the exploitation of workers who are in a constant position of less privileged group whose labour is the immediate source of profit for owners. When owners were asked about the salary of their workers, they declares that workers are paid only for their profit, but they do not have any share over profit.
Trade union movement had significantly declined in Bangladesh, with major bans imposed upon any kind of organization, allies or demonstration. But there are several registered and unregistered trade union federations for garments workers, which have no representative ness. The democratic rights of labour under the ILO convention, declares that workers have right to organize, bargain and choose their leader, without the implementation of the state. Most of the female labour are not aware about the membership of labour organization. It is clear that, there is no platform which have been uplift worker’s position in society.
Garments workers remain elusive, with their wage, with poor implementation of 60 hours overtime. Workers are unable to meet daily demand, continuous work without leaves, low job security etc create a sense of alienation.
- Overtime work is excessive 100 hours per month and sometimes workers are denied a holiday in a week
- child workers are abused by employers
- Education of overtime wages which makes a large, deficiency on the salary for all workers every month
- Refusal for working overtime would result as the deduction on salaries and threats to be field. Most workers are forced to accept overtime demanded by the management
Thus the worker is considered as a commodity which can be borrowed, utilized and thrown by the will of owners.
Bangladesh has been emerging as a RMG exporter country since the late 1970s and gradually it has become a leading apparel exporting country in the world. For a longtime RMG industry in Bangladesh is depend upon its cheap and abundant female labour (Kabeen, 2004). The garment industry is a 12 billion dollar industry, but Bangladesh’s wage scale is the lowest in the world, while the owners earn around 43 percent profit out of the interest rate. It is unthinkable how the workers are exploited by the owners. Studies on the garment workers indicated that garment workers are often very young, with little education, of rural origin and from poor families and most of them have no prior experiences. Female garment workers constitute a major part because of their nimble fingers.
But terrible insanitary overcrowded housing, malnutrition, extreme overwork in the facility strong resistance by owners etc create vulnerable situation for workers. Moreover low wages, and poor implementation of the law setting a standard 60 hour work week and 1 day off and maximum 12 hours overtime resulted in unrest situation in the garment industry. Workers try to be united but their rights are curtailed by owners, employers managers and by the state. It can be suitable here what Marx wrote some 100 years ago-
‘Capital is dead labour, that, vampire like, only lives by sucking living labour and lives the more’ the more labour it sucks”. (Capital, Vol-1).
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- Socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents (Name, Age, Sex, Marital Status, Education, Income)
- Living pattern of RMG workers (Housing, Education, food habit, medicine etc)
- Access to urban facilities
- Working environment and condition of the workers
- Problems and prospects of RMG workers of Bangladesh
- Membership of trade union
Labour movement for the demand of better life.