Blog: Leonie BarrieBangladesh: a letter of complaint

Leonie Barrie | 21 June 2006

Not surprisingly, European and US buyers want to see a quick solution to the ongoing unrest in the Bangladesh garment industry, and have now written to urge the country’s government to find a speedy solution to the problems. Understandably they’re deeply concerned about the situation, not only because it affects their own ability to place orders and plan deliveries, but also because the first whiff of worker exploitation could be enough to prompt a boycott among European consumers.

Most workers have returned to work after a series of proposals were hammered out by the government, workers and employers – including a fixed minimum wage. But sporadic low-level unrest has continued to break out amid delays in implementing the changes. The reality for retailers, though, is that part of the appeal of sourcing from Bangladesh is the fact that it’s so cheap. And the reality for many Bangladeshi businesses is that they can survive only by paying such low wages. And however appalling that may be to us in the west, it’s very likely that 2 million people – 80% of them women – would lose their jobs if Bangladeshi businesses paid wages on a par with Thailand, China or even India.


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