20,000 of garment workers who produce items for top Western fast fashion brands protested against unpaid wages in Bangladesh’s streets, saying they were more afraid of starving than contracting Covid-19.
Protesting workers shouted slogans such as “we want our wages” and “break the black hands of the owners” as they blocked roads despite a nationwide lockdown to curb the the spread of the deadly virus. The workers say many factories have not paid them after the orders were cut.
“We are afraid of the coronavirus. We heard a lot of people are dying of this disease, but we don’t have any choice. We are starving. If we stay at home, we may save ourselves from the virus. But who will save us from starvation?”, protesting worker named Sajedul Islam, 21, told the media.
Bangladesh’s apparel factories account for some 84 per cent of the country’s US$40 billion (RM173 billion) export sector, which is facing its worst crisis in decades after retailers including H&M, Walmart and Tesco cancelled orders because of the pandemic. Moreover, the lockdown which started on Mar 26, also forced the closure of majority garment factories in the country.
“We have not been paid for two months. We are starving,” said another protester, who gave her name as Brishti, from the Tex Apparel factory in the capital Dhaka.
“If we don’t have food in our stomach, what’s the use of observing this lockdown?”
“Some workers broke doors and glasses of a factory. But they were largely peaceful, No one was arrested,” police inspector Islam Hossain said.
Bangladesh government heard the protestants and understand their difficulties. Thus, has recently announced US$590 million in loans for export-oriented factories to pay workers.
Source : Malay Mail