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Interview with Pria and Beauty

September, 09 2006 Share

Interview with Harvest Rich Workers

Includes 13 year-olds Pria and Beauty 
Making clothing for Hanes and PUMA
Bangladesh, 9/9/2006

Piya and Beauty

Left: PRIA; Right: BEAUTY

Back to the Harvest Rich report

For a printable version of the transcript, click here

November 28, 2006 Update:
According to Harvest Rich management, Pria is now 18 1/2 to 19 years of age, while Beauty is 18 to 18 1/2. Two thirteen year olds were turned overnight into malnourished adults. Click here to see the complete update report.

RESEARCHER #1:  I have seen this with my eyes. 

Points at a white PUMA t-shirt with a blue collar.

Puma Label

NLC2:  So you have seen that shirt when you went into the factory?  That's a PUMA t-shirt.

NLC:  Do you have any idea what it sells for in the United States?

MALE WORKER #3: We don't know, but the owner is saying that it is expensive because [the price of] each [shirt] is equivalent to what's normal for 10 t-shirts.

NLC:  At a minimum, and it's probably more expensive, it's 1,610 taka.

MALE WORKER #4:  In Bangladesh it's around 80 cents or 1 dollar.  If we wear this some Bangladeshi people would say it is around 60, 80 cents.  This very t-shirt. 

Girl workers laugh.

MALE WORKER #3:  Here it is expensive, we don't make any money out of this, we produce this. 

NLC:  Did you ever make underwear like this, this Hanes?

Workers inspect the Hanes underwear.

workers look  at hanes underwear

MALE WORKER #3, holds up underwear.

MALE WORKER #3:  10, 15 days back, in a line.  We made this underwear. 

MALE WORKER #2: We took some underwear garments from... because they have some . . .

TRANSLATOR:  Now they are not making these.

NLC:  Since there are four people here from the RMG Unit 1, let's talk about RMG 1 first.

NLC:  Mr. [MALE WORKER #3], you are a supervisor?

MALE WORKER #3:  Senior operator.

NLC:  How long have you worked there?

MALE WORKER #3:  10 months.

NLC:  We may as well get everyone's name.

PRIA:  My name is Pria.  I'm an Operator.

NLC:  You are a junior operator?  How old are you?

PRIA:  13 years old.

NLC: And your name?

BEAUTY:  My name is Beauty.  I'm a Helper.

NLC:  How old are you?

BEAUTY:  13.

MALE WORKER #1: My name is ***.

NLC:  Do the four of you from RMG 1, did you make this in the factory? [Pointing to the white PUMA t-shirt with blue collar] Do you recognize this?

MALE WORKER #1:  [Yes, I am] 100% sure.

NLC:  How long ago was that?

MALE WORKER #3:  2 months.

Worker #3 picks up PUMA shirt.

MALE WORKER #3: We are still making PUMA but a different design.

NLC:  This design is two months old.

MALE WORKER #3:  The product now [being made], we will bring [it]and show you.

NLC:  How old are you [referring to MALE WORKER #1]?

MALE WORKER #1: 17.

NLC: And you [MALE WORKER #3]?

MALE WORKER #3: 18.

NLC:  We are going to ask you about conditions in the factory, hours" What are the hours there?

MALE WORKER #3:  We start at 8 in the morning. The lunch break is from 12:30 to 1:30.  It's a big factory. Sometimes it's 15 days [when lunch is] 12:30 to 1:30, [another] 15 days [it's] 1:30 to 2:30.  Every 15 days it changes.

NLC:  You work from 1:30 to when?

MALE WORKER #3:  5:00 p.m. in general.  Overtime starts at 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., but we work until 8 p.m. Until we meet the target. 

MALE WORKER #3:  The line supervisor told us last night we have to work from tomorrow even at 9 or 10 for a whole-night shift — we won't get any overtime except for 2 hours. But the rest of the overtime, we have to work without receiving any money.

NLC:  Tomorrow is the day of the strike?  You are going to be working at the factory?

WORKERS:  Yes, we will work.

Piya and  Beauty 

 

NLC:  You're saying you will work until 10 o'clock tomorrow night?

MALE WORKER #1:  We don't know. 

MALE WORKER #3: There is no certain time frame. So, we don't know. Maybe 10, 8, 9.

NLC2:  Are you saying just tomorrow? Or tomorrow and then on to other days?

MALE WORKER #3:  From tomorrow onwards.

MALE WORKER #1: We have got new orders.

NLC:  So you have a new order?

MALE WORKER #3:  The new order is from Hanes.

MALE WORKER #3:  If we don't meet the target we are beaten, always.  Ten days back one worker was beaten.

NLC:  The line supervisor told you yesterday that a new [order] is coming in and that you should be prepared to work until 9, 10 o'clock or later every night?

MALE WORKER #3:  The owner has received an order. A shipment will go out on the 23rd of September, so we have to do all the work that the management orders us to do. There is no compromise. We have to make the target by the 23rd.  If someone cannot meet the target, they take him and beat him.

NLC:  Is this the first time this has ever happened that you have had to work many days in a row until 9 or 10 o'clock?

MALE WORKER #1:  This one month they are flexible, but one, two months back we worked 9 p.m., 10 p.m..

NLC:  In the ten months that [MALE WORKER #3] has been working there what is the most normal time for you to get out, 7:00 p.m.?

MALE WORKER #3:  9 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m. — most of the time.

NLC:  Most of the time you get out 8 or 9 o'clock at night?

MALE WORKER #3:  8 p.m., 9 p.m.  To make the target, the management says we have to work until 8:30 p.m. and to give the card back around 9 p.m.

NLC:  Do you think this is even going to be worse, this period coming up with the new order, is this going to even be more hours?

MALE WORKER #3:  It's possible. Very often we have to work until 10 p.m. without having any refreshments, like tea or coffee.

Harvest Rich  Factory at Night

NLC:  How many days off, do you always get Friday off, the holiday?

MALE WORKER #3:  Not always.

NLC:  How many Fridays a month do you get?

MALE WORKER #1:  In [the next] one or two months, [we will get] no Fridays, but last month we got [Fridays off].

NLC:  Last month you got Fridays off?

MALE WORKER #1:  Two, three months back we worked Fridays.

NLC:  And do you think you will be working Fridays again?

MALE WORKER #1: We can have a regular contract on Fridays until " but next month, until Eid, we don't get any regular [Fridays off].

NLC:  When is Eid?

TRANSLATOR:  On the 26th of October.

NLC:  You don't think you will get a day off?

Workers shake their heads.

MALE WORKER #3:  No, we won't get any.

NLC:  When you work on Friday, do you get out at 2 o'clock in the afternoon or what?

MALE WORKER #3:  Five.

NLC:  Do you have time cards?

MALE WORKER #3:  Yes.

NLC:  Does anybody have one?  And the time cards are not marked correctly?

Workers hand over their time cards for inspection.

NLC:  So the cards are marked out at 7?

TRANSLATOR points at a time card and explains the markings.  

TRANSLATOR:  7 p.m., 8 p.m.  8 p.m. to 7 p.m..

NLC:  You are never marked out past 7? 

TRANSLATOR:  This is lunch break. 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.. 

NLC:  Where is Friday? Are Fridays off or does this show you working?

MALE WORKER #1:  It is general duty.  8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

NLC:  In other words, they never mark more than 2 hours overtime a day?

Pria's sister sleeps on the floor of their home, September 2006.

Pria's little sister  sleep on the floor

MALE WORKER #1:  No, maximum 2.

NLC:  Was this the Friday that you were out?

MALE WORKER #1 points to the time card. 

MALE WORKER #1:  This is off.

NLC:  You were off.  Do they mark the Fridays off even if you work?

MALE WORKER #3:  They have another card for Fridays.

NLC:  These Fridays will always be marked off?

MALE WORKER #3:  If we're open, they put a mark.

NLC:  That it's off, even if you're working? 

MALE WORKER #3:  Yes.

NLC: Do you get pay stubs?

WORKERS discuss among themselves regarding pay stubs.

MALE WORKER #1:  The Supervisor locks them in a drawer and keeps them.

NLC:  So you're just allowed to look at them for a minute, but then it's locked up?

MALE WORKER #3:  No, they don't allow us to see them.

NLC:  So you don't see your own pay stubs? 

MALE WORKER #3:  We will try to get one.

NLC:  When you get paid, how do you know you are getting paid correctly?

MALE WORKER #3:  They will never give more [than they should]. If they pay us less, there is no way to appeal.

NLC:  Do you ever go home with pay stub in hand so you can show your parents?

MALE WORKER #3:  We can bring it here.

NLC:  The pay stubs?  Good, you should bring the pay stubs. 

NLC: You never work all night?

MALE WORKER #3:  In a row, four nights.  We will show you the dates on the calendar.

WORKERS take calendar off wall and place it on table.  They gather around the calendar. TRANSLATOR and the WORKERS mark the dates they have done all night shifts.

NLC Hidden Camera Footage: Unknown workers inside the Harvest Rich factory at night, September 2006.

workers at harvest  rich at night

MALE WORKER #3:  I started the 10th of April.

NLC:  What?

MALE WORKER #3:  April 10th I started at 8 in the morning.  I worked the night of the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th in a row and I was freed on the morning of the 14th.

NLC:  You worked 4 days straight? Without sleeping?

NLC2: How much did you sleep?

MALE WORKER #3:  On the 10th of April I worked until 4 a.m.   I got a four hour break until 8 in the morning.  Then I worked until 3 a.m. on the night of the 11th, then again from 8 a.m. to 5 a.m., then again on the 14th.

NLC:  On the 13th you worked until 5 a.m. also?

TRANSLATOR:  Yes.

NLC:  So you're talking four days in a row?

MALE WORKER #3:  Four days in a row.

NLC:  Was it everybody?

MALE WORKER #3:  All the workers on the floor.

NLC:  What were you making?

MALE WORKER #3 demonstrates on himself what the shirts looked like.

MALE WORKER #3:   PUMA.  PUMA t-shirts.  Long-sleeved.

NLC:  But that's very rare to work like that?

MALE WORKER #3: Before the 23rd of September, since the shipment has to go out, we have to do it again.  3 or 4 nights in a row. 

TRANSLATOR: It is important, this critical time, you have to work.

NLC: What are your wages?

MALE WORKER #1: 2,750. 

MALE WORKER #3: 2,850. 

PRIA: 2,350. 

BEAUTY: 930.

NLC: And with overtime?

Pria's family in their home, September 2006.

Pria's family sitting  in their home

MALE WORKER #3: This month it's flexible, so I did 34 hours of overtime because there was not enough work, but now there is overtime.  In August I received 517 taka in overtime.

NLC: For 34 hours?

MALE WORKER #3: The money I earned for overtime is less than it should be.

NLC: And the others, is it the same?

MALE WORKER #1: 530 taka for overtime.  38 hours of overtime. 

NLC: And you two?

PRIA: 750 taka

BEAUTY: 1,328 taka.

NLC: Have either of you, especially the Helper, have you ever been hit or screamed at, at the factory?

BEAUTY: Every day the supervisor calls me names, beats the workers and shouts at the workers.

NLC: Like what?

BEAUTY: I cannot say.  [They use] very bad words. 

MALE WORKERS [explaining for the girl workers]: Like, 'I f-- your mother.'  'Prostitute.'

NLC2 [to TRANSLATOR]: Can you say that clearly?  What do they say?  What do they say to them?

TRANSLATOR: Now?

NLC: If you can say it out loud.  What do the supervisors say to them?

TRANSLATOR: 'I f-- your mother.'

NLC: She said they also hit, has she been hit?

BEAUTY: Yes.

NLC: For what? What happened?

BEAUTY: Yesterday.

NLC: What happened?

BEAUTY: The supervisors ordered us to make 110 pieces an hour.  We have to number like 30, 30. She demonstrates with the shirt on the table.

Beauty demonstrates  what she does at work

NLC: So you have to put a number?  30, 30.

TRANSLATOR: The target is 110 pieces an hour.

NLC: To match them?  To write the number?  What do you do? Are they already numbered?

BEAUTY: I have to match the numbers, like 30-30, and put them together.

NLC: You have to match the numbers and how many, you have to do 110 an hour?

BEAUTY: Yesterday I was a bit sick, most of the day I make 110 pieces [an hour].  Yesterday I was sick and could not make the target. 

BEAUTY mock slaps PRIA to demonstrate how she was hit by the supervisor.

BEAUTY: Slapped.

NLC: Hard?

BEAUTY: Hard.  Violently.

NLC: And the supervisor is a man?

BEAUTY: Yes.

NLC: A big man?

BEAUTY: Yes.  A big man.

PRIA: I was also beaten.

NLC: When was that?

PRIA: Wednesday, last Wednesday.

NLC: Why?

PRIA: One hundred and twenty pieces [an hour] was the target.  I made 100 pieces. The supervisor slapped me.

NLC: Where? 

MALE WORKER demonstrates.

NLC: Hard?

PRIA: Hard.  I am swollen.

NLC: What is your job?  What were you sewing?  What was your operation?

PRIA: I sew the fly.

NLC: For the Hanes pants? 

PRIA: Yes.

NLC: When you [Beauty] were beaten what were you working on? What were you matching?

BEAUTY: Long pants.  Trousers.  Matching the front to the back.

...

NLC: How many young people work in the factory?

MALE WORKER #3: 50 to 60. There are eight lines.

NLC: There are as many as 50-60 children there?

TRANSLATOR: Like her.  Like [Beauty].

NLC: At one point [MALE WORKER #3] said that two workers tried to steal something from the factory, like a can of paint, and they were beaten to death?

MALE WORKER #3: Eight months back.  Workers were beaten and taken to the hospital.

NLC: Why were they beaten?

MALE WORKER #3: Mr. Ratn, he is the director. He is a powerful man. He beat them.  A worker was taking a can of paint.  It was almost used up.  He took it from the factory. 

NLC: It was partially used?

MALE WORKER #3: It was not a new one.

NLC: One worker took out a small can of paint?  And what happened?

MALE WORKER #3: The guard checked. They always check the workers. He found the used paint can. Then the guard took the workers to Mr. Ratn, the director.  Then Mr. Ratn had a stick. [It was] very heavy.  He beat [the workers] very hard.  A worker was hit hard in the head and body. He was taken to the hospital.

NLC: This was one worker or two?

MALE WORKER #3: One.  One woman worker was also beaten.  The woman worker was trying to take a t-shirt.

NLC: That wasn't the same day?

MALE WORKER #3: The woman who was trying to take the t-shirt was the first incidence. 

NLC: When did that happen?

MALE WORKER #3: Two, three months [ago].

NLC: Two or three months before the eight months?  So it was 10 months ago?

TRANSLATOR: It happened before the worker was caught with the paint.

NLC: So, ten months back.

NLC: And they beat her with a stick for taking the shirt?

Pria walks home after work, September 2006.

Piya walks home

MALE WORKER #3: A woman guard checked her body and found the t-shirt under her clothes. She was taken to the administration and administration took her to Mr. Ratn the director. So Ratn kept her in his chamber all night, in his room.  She was maybe sexually harassed.  Harassed by Ratn.

NLC: Then what happened?

MALE WORKER #3: The woman worker was seriously humiliated and insulted.  In the morning she committed suicide.  She was run over by a bus.

WORKERS fall silent.

TRANSLATOR: She committed suicide because she was so humiliated and insulted. 

NLC: The woman?

TRANSLATOR: The woman.

NLC: She committed suicide.

TRANSLATOR: She wanted to be run over by a bus because she was so humiliated.

NLC2: What was her name?

MALE WORKER #3: I have to get her name.

NLC: In the factory, is it cool, is there a breeze?

MALE WORKER #3: There is a breeze, but it's hot because the roof is tin.  A steel sheet.  It's hot.

NLC: But aren't there other floors on top of your floor?

MALE WORKER #3: No, No.  Since it's a tin roof it is hot.

NLC: Are you actually sweating when you are working or is there enough ventilation?

GIRL WORKERS nod.

MALE WORKER #3: Except in winter, most of the time we sweat.

NLC: Do you have backs on your benches by your sewing machines?

MALE WORKER #3: We have stools.  Hard seats.

NLC: Do you bring in cushions?

MALE WORKER #1: No.  If we make it softer [with a cushion] they throw it out.

NLC: So it's a hard stool.

WORKERS: Very hard.

NLC: How many times can you use the bathroom?

MALE WORKER #3: We need to have a card.  When we have work we have to get a pass. When we have no work we have to get permission. So now we have work, so we have to get a pass.

NLC: How many times can you go?

MALE WORKER #1: Three times a day.

NLC: The bathroom is clean with water and soap and toilet paper?

Pria strongly objects. Everyone shakes their heads.

piya talks  about being slapped

MALE WORKER #3: It's very filthy.  If you are barefoot, you cannot enter.  Before taking lunch we cannot go in because it makes us vomit.

NLC: Because it stinks so badly?

MALE WORKER #3: If you open the door the stink comes out and there is no flowing water.

NLC: Why is there no water?

MALE WORKER #3: The water pipe sometimes gets jammed. The [water pressure] is not strong enough to lift the water. 

NLC: Is it common that there is no water or is it once a month?

MALE WORKER #3: In a week, for 2-3 days there is no water.  The canteen, even in the canteen, in the dining area, there is no water.  It's very rusty.

NLC: In the canteen there is often no water?  Same thing?  Never, or two three days a week?

MALE WORKER #3: Mostly, yeah, two or three days.  If the water comes, the flow is very weak, not like a strong flow.  And the floor of the canteen is also dirty.  So nobody can walk barefoot.

NLC: Are there tables and chairs in the canteen?

MALE WORKER #3: There are no tables or chairs.  It is cement.  Long cement tables.  The canteen does not accommodate [all] the workers. There are some women workers that take their lunch on the open floor, so on the roof.

NLC: On the roof?  Outside?

MALE WORKER #3: And also on the ground on the grass, outside.  They leave the factory and sit on the ground.

NLC: Do you have a union?

MALE WORKER #3: No.

NLC: What happens when the monitors come into the factory, the corporate monitors?

MALE WORKER #1: They never supply the right sandals, [but] when the buyers come they put out some sandals so workers can go to bathroom.

NLC: Do they put soap and toilet paper in the bathroom?

MALE WORKER #3: No, only plastic shoes.  No soap.  No toilet paper.

MALE WORKER #3: When the buyer comes, the factory management provides us with uniforms. They are very thick, and it gets sweaty. We don't feel comfortable in the uniforms.

NLC: And you wear the uniform just for that day?

MALE WORKER #3: Only for the monitoring.

NLC: Do the monitors ever interview workers?

MALE WORKERs shake their heads.

MALE WORKER #3: No, they don't talk to us.

NLC: What would happen if a worker told the truth?

MALE WORKER #3: When the buyer comes, the management is always around the buyer. If buyers interview a worker, the management stares into the eyes of the worker, so that is a signal for what to tell to the buyers.

RESEARCHER #1: Workers are scared of losing their jobs.

NLC: Do workers get maternity benefits, maternity leave?

MALE WORKER #3: Management says they pay maternity benefits, but we have not seen any workers who have been paid maternity leave.

NLC: Do you get the annual vacation?

MALE WORKER #3: Eid holiday, three days.

NLC: So you get Eid, three days, but you don't get another vacation?

WORKERS: No, never.

NLC: How about government holidays?

MALE WORKER #3: No.  Yesterday was a government holiday, but [we worked]. 

MALE WORKER #1: The 14th of April is a national holiday, a very important day, but we work. Only on Eid holidays do we get off.

NLC: Do you have healthcare?

MALE WORKER #3: A doctor visits the factory once a week.  But the company does not provide any medicine.

NLC: The young woman, the helper [GIRL WORKER #2], can she afford, and other young workers like her can they afford a toothbrush and toothpaste?

BEAUTY: A toothbrush.  I use mini-toothpaste. 

MALE WORKER #3: Many workers use ashes.

NLC: But you [Beauty] don't?

BEAUTY: No. 

MALE WORKER #3: But you can find many workers who do. How many workers can afford to buy toothpaste?  Many workers use their finger and ashes from the fire.

NLC: How do you live, do you share a room with other women?

BEAUTY: I live with my mother.

NLC: How many people are in the house?

BEAUTY: Three persons.  My mother, myself and my brother.

NLC: How big is your house?

BEAUTY: Half of this room.

MALE WORKER #3: It's less than half. 

...

Piya and  Beauty

 

NLC: Does it happen once a week that you get home at 10 p.m., or that almost never happens? 

BEAUTY: About 15 days a month I get home at 10 p.m.

NLC: What do you do when you get home? Do you eat again? Or what"?

BEAUTY: We have to cook at night.

NLC: So what time do you eat?

BEAUTY: 12:00, 12:30, 1:00.

NLC: So you are awake until like 12:30, 1:00?

BEAUTY: Yeah. It is 1:00 or 2:30 when we eat supper.

Beauty talks with TRANSLATOR.

BEAUTY: 1 or 2:30 when we go to sleep.

NLC: Do you have to clean the house and wash clothes and things like that?

BEAUTY: My mother does meals. I do cleaning, washing the dishes.

...

BEAUTY: Sometimes 7, 8, 9 at night [inaudible].

NLC: How long have you been working in the factory?

BEAUTY: 6 months.

NLC: And you, the operator? How long have you been there?

PRIA: 3 full months.

NLC: How many other young people, children like yourselves are working in the factory?

PRIA: In my line, in my group, 56.

NLC: When the monitors come, do they take you off the floor?

PRIA: Oh yes. [inaudible] They let us go home early or they put us in the bathroom.

NLC: Has anyone ever tried to organize a union in the factory?

PRIA: No.

NLC: Because the workers just don't want it or what?

MALE WORKER #3: They won't allow the workers to form a union.

NLC: Does anyone help you, the workers?

PRIA: No.

NLC: And your factory is relatively open? They don't stop everyone, you can actually walk into the factory?

RESEARCHER #1: Last time, I could get in. Sometimes during the line they will check the workers' cards.

NLC: Do some of the workers eat in the factory? By your machines? Or what? Do the workers ever take their lunch on the shop floor?

...

Pria's House, Bangladesh, September 2006.

Pria's House

MALE WORKER #3: The women workers. The ladies, they remain inside the factory taking lunch, in the factory.

NLC: So they would be inside close to their machines?

MALE WORKER #3: Yes.

TRANSLATOR:  They remain inside the factory close to their machines.

...

MALE WORKER #3: This coming month, like September, we will be highly pressured, we will be beaten, shouted at, oppressed, this is the very critical month for the workers.

NLC: We will get one of those cell phones for you, either tomorrow or the next day.

NLC: Do they play music in the factory or is it just all work?

MALE WORKER #3: No, no music.

NLC: And are the workers allowed to talk to each other?

PRIA: No. We can't, from one machine to another.

PRIA gestures, arm's length away.

MALE WORKER #3: No, we cannot talk.

MALE WORKER #3 gestures as if to next machine over.

NLC: You can't talk?

MALE WORKER #3: No.

NLC: And you cannot get up to move, even to another machine?

MALE WORKER #3: No.

MALE WORKER #3: If we pass something we have to go give it to the supervisor and the supervisor gives it to someone. We cannot get out and move from our place.

...

NLC: Is anyone able to save money in a factory like yours?

MALE WORKER #3: No.

NLC: Do you live on credit, how does that work?

MALE WORKER #3: No.

NLC: I mean do you borrow money to eat? Do you get food on credit?

RESEARCHER #1: *** was paid 1,600 taka last time and he had to pay 1,700 taka in food. That means he had to borrow 100 taka. Most workers borrow money or take credit [inaudible].

NLC: How much is rent, normally?

MALE WORKER #3: They share rent. Where *** lives, its 1,600 taka a month. All workers share.

NLC: What do you have to spend on, do you have to buy water?

MALE WORKER #3: We have to pay for water.

NLC: And how big is the house or the room?

RESEARCHER #1: Half and then another half of this room.

RESEARCHER #1 gestures, divides room

MALE WORKER #2: Half and half.

MALE WORKER #2 gestures, divides room

NLC: So it's very small, 10 x 10 at most.

NLC2: No they said half and half, meaning like a quarter of this room.

NLC: So a quarter of this?

RESEARCHER #1: 1/3 of this room.

NLC Hidden Camera Footage: Unknown workers on their way to the Harvest Rich factory, September 2006

hidden camera harvest  rich factory

NLC: And does it leak, does the house leak when it rains?

RESEARCHER #1: Yes, it leaks.

MALE WORKER #2: And even once, the roof got a hole in it.

NLC: How much do you spend on food a month and what do you eat?

MALE WORKER #2: Lentils and rice. It costs 1,200 taka if we only eat rice and lentils.

NLC: A month?

MALE WORKER #2: Yes.

NLC: And that's for one person?

MALE WORKER #2: One.

NLC: For lentils and rice and nothing else. And what else do you eat? Do you ever have chicken or fish?

MALE WORKER #2: 2 to 3 times a month.

NLC: What do you do for entertainment?

MALE WORKER #2: We stay at home. How can we have entertainment or fun when we don't have any money?

NLC: And you 2 women, have you ever gone to see a movie?

PRIA: Never. I've watched television, but I've never visited the cinema or movie theatre.

BEAUTY: Never. [inaudible]

NLC: Have either of you ever gone on vacation?

MALE WORKER #3: There are two factors: we don't have time to go on vacation and second, we don't have any money to go on vacation.

NLC: Do you own bicycles?

PRIA: No.

NLC: Do you have a walkman, do you listen to music?

BEAUTY: No.

Workers talk amongst themselves.

PRIA: Yes, I have one. Yes, we listen to music. And I have a VCD.

TRANSLATOR: VCD is to watch videos.

NLC: When you are working, what do you think about all day? When you are working at a sewing machine or are a helper, do you dream about stuff, or what goes through your minds?

PRIA: My whole life I am in the dark. There is nothing to say.

BEAUTY: No. We are so concentrated on work, we have no dreams, we have no time to dream.

NLC: When you go home on the bus together, do you talk to each other, when you are out of work, what do you hope for, what do you talk about?

Workers talk amongst themselves.

MALE WORKER #3: When we get out of the factory, we go home, cook food, [inaudible].

NLC [to Pria]: When you were slapped, does it hurt that much, did you cry? What happened?

PRIA: Yes, I cried.

NLC: And the supervisors, they are all men?

PRIA: Yes.

NLC: Is there any sexual harassment in these factories?

Workers talk amongst themselves.

MALE WORKER #3: Yes, the line supervisors. The supervisors sexually harass the girls but they [the supervisors] increase their salaries or give them other advantages or approve leave so that the women workers don't tell this to others. They give some favor to the workers who are harassed.

TRANSLATOR: Generally, when women are harassed, they don't tell anyone because of their marriage and it is not social acceptable. They don't disclose that they are sexually abused by someone else.

NLC: Do you know where the clothing goes?

MALE WORKER #2 (with input from Researcher #1): Jordan, America, France, Brazil.

Workers talk amongst themselves.

WORKERS: On the carton, we can see something in English.

NLC: Does it say it is going to the United States?

Workers talk amongst themselves.

MALE WORKER #3: We can only see the Hanes print.

NLC: Have you ever heard of the global economy? Do you know what it is?

PRIA: No.

BEAUTY: No.

NLC: Do you have any image of the United States, of the people who buy these clothes?

PRIA: No.

NLC: In the whole Harvest Rich group, how many children work?

Workers talk amongst themselves.

WORKERS: 400 or 500 or 600

...

PRIA: Before slapping or beating or hitting workers, the supervisors shout at the workers, and this is a sign. That and the way workers react, they slightly [inaudible]. There are some arguments, altercations, and it's a signal they will start hitting us.

NLC: When they slap the workers, does anyone ever really get hurt, like fall to the ground? Is it ever really violent where someone actually gets hurt?

RESEARCHER #1: Sometimes workers are beaten so hard they cannot come to work for a couple of days.

NLC: So, they don't go to work for 3 days. How does that happen? Do they get kicked or hit with a stick?

MALE WORKER #3: A ruler.

NLC: So workers have been hit with rulers?

MALE WORKER #3: The line supervisor always holds the ruler in his hands.

NLC: When you get paid, they never pay you for more than 2 hours of overtime a day even though you might work more than 2 hours of overtime?

MALE WORKER #3: If we skip 4 Fridays, it would be 54 hours of overtime if we worked it. But the company would never give past 48 hours. This is the maximum they would give. Even though we could work 60 or 70 or more hours.

WORKERS: We work 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. so that means 30 hours more. They don't pay us for the 30 hours. But we have to work.

NLC: And what happens if you ask for your full overtime pay?

MALE WORKER #3: For example, if 4 or 5 workers ask together, the worker who takes the lead will be forced out. But the workers who are submissive, they will be hit. But the workers who take the lead will be forced out of the factory.

NLC: So are you in contact with a lot of other child workers?

MALE WORKER #3: Yes.

NLC: Are most of them women or are some of them men?

MALE WORKER #3: Both men and women.

NLC: What do you want? What would make your". What would your demands be, if demands were made to PUMA and Hanes, what are you asking for?

MALE WORKER #3: Better salary, better overtime, and overtime would be legally paid and the company should stop beating us, shouting at us, calling us names. The target should be based on the ability. It is too high. They set the targets too high for us. We want all Fridays off, we want a day to relax. Every night we work 1 hour extra, like from 8 to 7:30. We want to work until 7. We don't want to work without getting any money.

NLC: How much".? It's a long day, even to work from 8 until 7. Do you think if you got paid the correct overtime, you would be willing to work from 8 in the morning until 8 at night?

MALE WORKER #3: If paid correctly, then we would work, but not past 8. We can at a maximum work until 8. Our body punishes us if we work past 8.

NLC Hidden Camera Footage: Unknown workers getting off the Harvest Rich bus to go to work, September 2006

hidden camera footage

NLC: What would be a wage that would allow you to live "?

MALE WORKER #3: And the overtime from 5 to 8, we need some refreshment like tea or something to eat. [inaudible]

NLC: What in your mind".? There is inflation in Bangladesh. The cost of food keeps going up.

MALE WORKER #3: The prices are going up, after some time we will have to go without food.

WORKERS: The inflation rate is increasing, but our salaries are decreasing. The rent is increasing, the rent of the house, rice, cost of living cost, the price of everything is going up, but the salary is not. Even if it [pay] increases 50 taka, it's insignificant.

NLC: What would be a wage you could survive with some dignity?

MALE WORKER #3: Minimum 4,000.

WORKERS: But to have a decent life, we need 5,000 to 6,000 taka.

NLC: So with a regular wage of 5,000 to 6,000 you could live a little better?

MALE WORKER #3: That would be good.

RESEARCHER #1: With 5,000 or 6,000 and overtime, I could support my family and we could live better.

NLC: If you had more money, what would you use it for? What are the most important things that you would buy if your wages were better?

MALE WORKER #3: We would buy something for our parents and improve our living conditions, better housing conditions

MALE WORKER #2: And help our brothers and sisters.

BEAUTY: I would buy something for my mother and my sister. I would improve my living conditions, my house.

PRIA: I would send money to my parents and send my siblings to school.

NLC: What grade did you get a chance to finish?

PRIA: 7th grade.

BEAUTY: 4th grade.

NLC: What does it cost to go to a public school?

PRIA: We had to pay for clothing, shoes, transportation, [inaudible], pens, pencils, books, fees.

NLC: How much does it cost for a uniform?

WORKERS talk amongst themselves.

MALE WORKER #3: You have to get 2 sets. It's 500 or 600 taka.

NLC: For the 2 of them?

MALE WORKER #3: No, 1 set.

NLC: So you need 2 sets and 1 set costs 500 to 600. What do shoes cost?

MALE WORKER #3: 100 or 300.

NLC: What would you spend for books and notebooks and textbooks and exams? Is this by month or is it 1 fee?

MALE WORKER #3: It depends.

NLC: But roughly?

MALE WORKER #3: 200, 300 taka. They want you to pay 300 or 400 taka.

NLC: For the year?

MALE WORKER #3: 1,000 for the year.

NLC: The bicycle rickshaw, what does that cost for you to go to school every day?

MALE WORKER #3: It depends on the distance.

NLC: 100 taka?

MALE WORKER #3: About.

NLC: So maybe we could take a ride out there and look at the factories.

NLC: You all live near the factory?

WORKERS talk amongst themselves.

MALE WORKER #3: Yes.

Pria falls asleep on the bus on her way home from work, September 2006.

Piya asleep on bus

 

 

 


 

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