One of the poorest countries of the world and most complex in development.
Literacy still is one of the biggest challenges in Bangladesh, child labour, child marriage, slavery and last but not least the country undergoes often natural disasters.
On the other side the whole world, especially textile industry produces in Bangladesh and should contribute to economic development ?
I talked to some main players in the market and measures that some of these companies would be happy to adopt within their CSR policies, are higher wages for the textile workers. You might not believe it, but that’s true.
Why nothing happens?
Negotiations with the Bangladesh government ended more than once, that these big players need to stay out of the countries internal market decisions and that improvements are not welcome. Of course, reasons are clear to everyone! The government is afraid to loose part of the textile market to even lower-cost countries like Vietnam or others.
Quiet an amazing and courageous experiment that some companies tried to adopt, was to negotiate with their suppliers and supplier chains for an increase in wages for workers.
Do you suspect what happened next?
Many Bangladesh workers live in shelters close to their working place and the owners of the shelters are the same big and powerful bosses of these big Bangladeshi textile supplier companies. With the workers’ increase in wages contemporarily the rent of the shelters increased! The big Bangladeshi bosses even increased their profits and the workers are in the same inhumane conditions!
This appreciable experience failed of course, the government defends and earns good money with the big textile companies and actually do someone care about the conditions of these workers? Do someone care if Bangladeshi companies hire child labour or do WE only wake up when one company like Rana Plaza collapse? Only because TV and media tell us one horrible disaster while the whole country supports thousands of these companies without any workers safety measures!!
An quite amazing comment that I witnessed in front of an European “cheapest” textile shop from customers’s side: when the interviewer asked if they never question a price…How can garments from Bangladesh, Pakistan or other Asian countries be so cheap, considering shipping, manufacturing and all?
Most customers replied that they don’t care, they do have enough own personal problems!