Institute calls for wage increase in Bangladesh

March, 20 2013 Share

Today, every major newspaper across Bangladesh is dominated by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights' call for increased wages for Bangladeshi workers and respect internationally recognized labor rights.

Two very important articles published on March 18, 2013 by Women's Wear Daily ("Wal-Mart said considering Bangladesh pull back" by Karyn Monget and Mayu Saini) and BusinessWeek ("Will Wal-Mart move manufacturing out of Bangladesh?" by Susan Berfield) have swept across Bangladesh.


From BusinessWeek:

"Bangladesh is the world's second-biggest apparel exporter, after China, with an industry worth about $19 billion. Its labor costs are the lowest in the world, says Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights. He says workers there make from 18¢ to 26¢ an hour; in China they make an average of $1.34 an hour. Kernaghan also notes that the Bangladesh Parliament is controlled by the business community, and the export processing zones by the military. "Bangladesh needs to make a giant step forward in terms of enforceable labor rights," he says. "But when it comes to making the factories safer, this has to be up to the big retailers. It's at least 50 percent their responsibility.

(Bloomberg/BusinessWeek 3/18/2013 reprinted in The Daily Star and other Bangladeshi papers on 3/20/2013.)


Excerpt from Women's Wear Daily:

"From the labor rights camp, Charles Kernaghan, director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights said, ‘Wal-Mart has the financial muscle to make Bangladesh clean up its act in the manufacturing arena-if it wants to...

"The Bangladeshi government is so corrupt and controlled by the factory owners who live in mansions with money they've sweated out of the workers ...It would be devastating to the workers if Wal-Mart pulled out all apparel manufacturing in Bangladesh..."

(Women's Wear Daily, 3/18/2013 reprinted in Bangladesh's Financial Express, 3/20/2013.


Note:  Samsung in South Korea is planning to build a new manufacturing hub in an export processing zone in Bangladesh (where, by law, workers are prohibited from joining unions, and where the government openly runs a blacklist of worker activists).  There, Samsung will manufacture mobile phones, high-end electrical, electronic and home appliance products.  (Financial Express, Bangladesh, 3/20/2013)

Note:  Today, the High Court in Bangladesh declared that the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association's high rise headquarters was constructed illegally.  The Court has ordered that the building be demolished within 90 days.