Oxfam has just released research that exposes the shameful truth – a tiny portion of the retail price of clothing goes to the women who make them. During a trip to Bangladesh, Helen Szoke visited the homes of women and describes what she found.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya families are living in makeshift camps, without shelter and clean water. If they're lucky, they may have plastic sheeting to sleep under, but mostly they are huddled under sarongs.
According to the UN, 2.4 billion people around the world struggling to stay well, keep their children alive and work their way to a better future - all for the want of a toilet.
Bangladesh is well known for the appalling conditions under which many of its garment sector employees have to work. Both in terms of the physical conditions, but also the wages they’re paid, which are among the lowest in the region. But despite the many Australian companies that have met, or exceeded, the Australian community’s demands to improve workers’ conditions, there are still some holding out.
In the last week, thousands of Australians have asked Just Group a simple question: “When are you going to stop breaking hearts and sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord?” Their response? Not happening. Stop asking.
Australians love denim. 670,000 tonnes of the stuff in 2014 alone and with a $56 billion price tag. That’s a lot of cheddar, and a whole lot of denim. For the last two years we have pressured ten of the country’s largest garment manufacturers to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord — but two companies refuse to sign.
Most clothing and footwear companies are highly secretive about the factories that supply to them. But, in addition to signing this important safety agreement, companies are now starting to tell us where their factories are. For the first time ever we can now see where Big W (owned by Woolworths) is making its clothes in Bangladesh.
Kalpona is a former child worker who started work in garment factories when she was twelve. She is now the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), one of Bangladesh’s most prominent labour rights organisations. Find out how you can help improve the rights of workers in Bangladesh.
Guest Blogger, Tania Cass describes her experiences working with women in Bangladesh: "The inspiration and dedication for my work comes from my Bangladeshi colleagues, working so hard to make change and from the communities, particularly women who stand so tall and confident as they explain to me how an Oxfam program has transformed their life."
Sumi Abedin was working in the Tarzeen garment factory in Bangladesh when she was forced to make a chilling decision. Trapped in the burning factory and faced with the horrific choice between burning alive or jumping to certain death, she chose to jump.