The collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April 2013 brought the world’s spotlight on to the Bangladesh garment industry and the terrible conditions that its mainly women workers are forced to endure while making clothes for our high street. A vital part of ensuring we never see another Rana Plaza is for workers themselves to organise and demand change.
Workers are fighting back – but they do so at great risk. In the last year attacks on trade union organisers have started to increase, including workplace harassment, sackings, violent attacks and arrest. These workers are among the lowest paid in the industry; in Bangladesh the minimum wage is estimated to be just a fifth of a living wage and this represents another barrier to organising, with workers unable to financially support their own unions through dues or donations.
The best way we can support Bangladesh’s garment workers to demand their rights is through solidarity. Since June 2014 UNISON International Development Fund has been working with UK campaigners Labour Behind the Label to do just this. With UNISON’s support BRGWF have been able to significantly increase their organising efforts by setting up a small office and establishing an organising team in one of the fasted growing industry hubs in the country.
Donating to the solidarity fund can provide long term, secure funding to enable BRGWF to continue its work to challenge the terrible working conditions Bangladesh workers endure while making clothes for the UK high street.