Inhuman life of Garments workers:
- Shahjahan Siraj
Most of the workers came from the village, could not income paper money in the village. After arrived Dhaka/ cities they could get a chance, at the same time bound to work as without money city life impossible, can not continue ever one hour. The garments owners take this change as there is huge number worker available with competitive price. Although they know there are doing more work compare to there salary, but they can not say anything. they work 12-14 hours daily, even for whole night during shipment, despite this violate legislation. They walk down 6-7 km to reach the factory, again walk the same way to return home. They face the danger of insecurity and sexual harassment. They feel helpless in the machine-like environment of the City. They are compelled to seek shelter in the suburban slum area to maintain their lives with such a meagre income. In spite of such ordeal she dreams of freedom, leading a decent life. The opportunity of work has enabled her to dream. But if that dream is shattered? If they lose job? If the factory closes down? So they accept all exploitation without question.
The garments factories in Bangladesh did not develop from the existing textile industry of Bangladesh. From ancient time Bangladesh had a history of textile manufacturing, though during British colonial rule the industry suffered a brutal repression to facilitate the flourishing of British textile industries in Manchester. The garments factories, more accurately speaking, the ready-made garments sector developed due to global market economic restructuring (Kabeer 2000), global relocation of capital (Zaman 1999) and as a peripheral part of global capitalist system (Mitter 1986). 90% labor of this sector are women. There are more than 3000 garment factories in Bangladesh, most of them are members of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA). Almost two-third of them are situated in Dhaka, almost one-fourth of them are situated in the port city of Chittagong (BGMEA 1999).
In Dhaka City most of the garment factories are situated in the residential area, so they have no amenities to tackle emergency situation like accidental fire. Almost all the factories are housed in a previously built building that was not made for a factory. So a large number of workers work in a small space. The rooms are crowded and floor-to-floor height is very low. It has been found that 4 garment factories are housed in an 8-storied building (Shimu 1999). In every floor there are 500-600 workers. The main entrance of the factory remains locked all-time. Climbing the dark narrow stairs, if any body arrives in the upper floor, s/he will see women are sewing garments at machines congestedly in long rows all over the floor. The passage of stairs is narrow. The length and breadth of doors and windows are too small. Environment is stuffy and dirty. In most cases, due to closed windows, light and air is not sufficient. Many persons use the same toilet, so toilets remain dirty very often and the environment of factory remains stinky most of the time. It poses health & safety hazards not only to the workers, but also to the neighbouring residential areas also. This is the common scenario.
However the women are deprived too in their new workplace. She does not know what are her rights at workplace. So she is deprived of her rightful wages, though she exhausts her all life-energy competing with the machine at the factory. They are deprived from other rights of workers and human rights, as they are discriminated as women. These workingwomen are the most deprived section among the deprived class, poorest of the poor.