A plea to the wider church...

Living in the society we do, it's sometimes hard to appreciate how fortunate we truly are. We have free running water, not a poverty-stricken nation and the minimum wage for an employee who is 21 and over is £6.19. Therefore at times it might be hard to emphasize with the problems that people face in other countries. In Bangladesh the garment workers are facing an incredible injustice, so let me try as best as I can to put it into perspective for you...

In Bangladesh garment workers aren't even paid anything close to our minimum wage. Their living wage is thought to be $380 a month and they aren't even paid anything as close to that. They are expected to survive on $52 a month after working up to 14 hours a day for up to seven days a week. So in effect they would start their days' at 9am in the morning to 11pm at night everyday. In the society that we live in we have a term for that...slave labour. It's also saddening to know that in the 'evolved' post feminist era that we live in, that there are gross wage inequalities between men and women. This saddens me deeply as there are many women in that nation that are are the main breadwinners for their families, but because of their gender they are not able to provide as well for their families.

Bangladesh is known to be the second largest clothing exporter in the world after China. It is an industry that is worth $20 billion (that wasn't a typo error, I did indeed say $20 billion), it is growing at the rate of 12% per year and accounts for 80% of the country's exports. So essentially the economic expansion almost wholly rests on the shoulders of the garment workers. So therefore they should be celebrated and commemorated within their country? No, the garment workers typically get paid the equivalent of  10p an hour! How many things can you buy for 10p in the UK? Not much.

On 24th April, Rana Plaza, an eight-story factory building collapsed in Savar, Bangladeshi. It has became known as the worst garment factory accident and deadliest accidental structural failure in history. Over 1, 131 people died and 2,500 were injured. To me and you, these may just be figures, but to their families that day they lost a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, a cousin, niece/nephew. The factory owners were warned of the dangers of the building collapsing but just told their employees to go home and come back the next day which was when the tragedy struck. But sadly, this is not a one-off issue, since 2005 an estimated 1,800 Bangladesh garment workers have been killed in factory fires and collapses. The five main reasons for the collapse were: Shoddy construction materials, Corrupt building practices, Flouting of building codes, Vibrating industrial equipment at the top of a commercial building and people being forced into an unsafe structure.

Following this devastating and dreadful tragedy, the church of Bangladesh took the initiative to support rescue teams, mobilise help for the injured garment workers and their families, develop an advocacy programme based on the needs of the factory workers', and is pressing industry leaders to guarantee basic labour conditions.

Although, some of the world's biggest fashion chains have plans to finance up to £42million-worth of fire safety and building improvements in the factories they use in Bangladesh. The International Labour Organisation, the European Union and the Government of Bangladesh have declared a major "compact" to improve labour rights, working conditions and factory safety. The Bangladeshi government made a new minimum wage of $34 with allowances, more needs to be done. More needs to be done, it is all fair and well fashion chains supporting this and legally bound for the next 5 years, but our jobs as the consumer is to ensure that the arrangements are being implemented.

list of companies who have signed the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord:

COMPANY SIGNATORIES:
Abercrombie & Fitch
Aldi Nord
Aldi South
Auchan
Bay City Textilhandels GmbH
Belotex
Benetton
Bonmarche
C&A
CAMAIEU
Carrefour
Charles Voegele
Comtex
Daytex
Debenham
El Corte Ingles
Ernstings's Family
Esprit
Fat Face
Gstar
H&M
Helly Hansen
Hema
Hess Natur-Textilien GmbH
Horizonte
Inditex
JBC
John Lewis
Juritex
Kik
Kmart (Australia)
LC WAIKIKI
Lidl
Loblaw
Mango
Marks and Spencer
Metro
Mothercare
N Brown
New Look
Next
Otto Group
Primark
PUMA
PVH
Rewe
S Olivier
Sainsbury
Scoop NYC
Sean John Apparel
Shop Direct Group
Stockmann
Switcher
Target (Australia)
Tchibo
Tesco
V&D
We Europe
Zeeman
http://www.industriall-union.org/global-brands-pull-together-on-bangladesh-safety-deal

My plea isn't to ask you for lump sums of money, or to boycott any clothes stores as this would not do any good for the economy in Bangladesh. My plea is this:

-Pray for the situation: The United Society who are part of the church of Bangladesh group provided this prayer:

Lord of all,

For the times that we buy without thought of those who have produced our clothes, when we have sacrificed ethics for economy, we ask forgiveness;

God of Justice,

Help us to hate injustice as you do, to speak up for those with no voice, and to stand with those who are forced to work in clothes factories for little reward in Bangladesh;

King of Kings,

We pray for leaders and politicians in Bangladesh, for lawyers and for business leaders, that you would not let them rest until there is justice for the garment workers in that country.

Amen.

-Tell your friends/families/colleagues, organise a meeting at work, or on your campus.
-Send a letter to your local store selling clothes made in Bangladesh:

Model Letter:



Dear Colleague,

I recently bought some clothes at your store.

It made me think back to the loss of at least 1,127 lives of garment workers and others when the ninestorey

Rana Plaza collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh. So, before I buy more clothes from you, I wanted to

ask you about where your clothes are manufactured and what conditions are like for people working in

those factories.

Please let me know:

1 Does your company import clothing made in Bangladesh or other developing countries?

2 Do you set minimum workplace standards for your suppliers?

3 Do you ensure they pay their workers a fair wage?

4 Does your company support the international Accord on Fire and Building Safety?

5 What assessments have you made recently of your supply chain to ensure significant and sustained

improvements in the working conditions of garment workers?

I look forward to your reply and being able to share it with my friends and colleagues, many of whom

have similar concerns about the working conditions of people who are making our clothes.

Signed
 
......................................................................................................................

FROM: ................................................................................

ADDRESS:..........................................................................

..............................................................................................

..............................................................................................

..............................................................................................

 
 
 
TO THE MANAGER
 
STORE: ......................................................................................................

ADDRESS: ................................................................................................

......................................................................................................................

......................................................................................................................
 
-Talk to bodies to put pressure on the Bangladesh garment manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Bangladesh knitting manufacturers and Exports Association.
http://www.bgmea.com.bd/
-Write to your elected representative in local, state or national government to ask for representations to be made to the retailers selling garments made in Bangladesh, and also to the Bangladesh government to improve conditions for workers in the industry.
--
We all need to gather and help our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh as right now they are in a desperate need and this is a Global issue. The little changes that we make can and will make a difference to their lives.

"Promote justice! Give the oppressed a reason to celebrate" Isaiah 1:13-17

http://www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/news-releases/a-church-call-to-action-justice-for-bangladeshi-garment-workers

Until next time...
 



1 comment:

  1. I am so proud of everything that you are doing, Tamara. You are such an inspiration to me and many others around you. I want you to know that I am praying for the people of Bangladesh AND for you as well. May you continue to be the light that shines in a dark world.....you are changing lives, whether you realise it or not. Love you LOADS :) xx Jenn

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