Kalpona Akter and the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity

Ethical trading & business, Labour rights, Women's rights article written on the 28 Mar 2014

Kalpona Akter is the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), one of Bangladesh’s most prominent labour rights organisations. She is a former child worker who started work in garment factories when she was twelve. Kalpona set up the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity in 2001 to campaign for improved conditions in the garment industry. The centre educates Bangladesh women about their rights and encourages women workers to form unions so they can bring about the change they want to see inside factories. BCWS operates a night school as well as a model daycare centre for children of garment workers. Kalpona has travelled internationally calling on the garment companies that were sourcing from the Tazreen and Rana Plaza factories to pay fair compensation to the families of the deceased and the injured. She has also been calling on all companies sourcing from Bangladesh to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord to help prevent future tragedies. She featured in a November 2013 article in the Australian Women’s Weekly magazine that reported on conditions for workers in Bangladesh. Since the beginning of 2014 most Australian companies sourcing from Bangladesh have joined the Safety Accord – with the exception of Best & Less and The Just Group (Just Jeans, Jay Jays). During their time in Australia in April 2014, Sumi Abedin (survivor of the 2012 Tazreen factory fire) and Kalpona will be calling on Best & Less and The Just Group to join the Accord to ensure their factories are independently inspected. Oxfam will be meeting with Best & Less on Monday 7 April, just a few days before Sumi and Kalpona arrive. We will be handing over a petition of thousands of signatures to Best & Less calling on the company to join the Accord. Please add your name to the petition and ask Best & Less and The Just Group to guarantee safety for workers in their factories.