Today felt pretty grim in a proper Monday mood until I went swimming in the Lido and felt a little better about the world - and then I sat down in front of the computer to find that a major reform of the Bangladeshi labour laws is about to start and now I feel like it's the best day in a long time.
To me it seems that finally the global attention towards labour issues have given the NGWF the power to pressure the Bangladeshi government into talks of raising the minimum wage. The retailers are in defence and any comment or lobbying against would be of interest to the media - meaning that the power is finally distributed in favour of the workers. H&M actually signed the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement - pushing Primark and several others who had previously refused because they can't afford to pay for the factory buildings upgrading work into safe working environment. (Either it tells you something about the state of these buildings and what the retailers know about that, or it tells you just how greedy they are).
It has been announced that the minimum wage will be raised (currently at $37), which is roughly half of what it is even in India (Rs. 2500 vs. India: Rs. 4500). It is extremely important that we help press for the biggest increase possible and that the new freedom in joining unions is praised so that factory owners and the middle management understand that there is industry support behind their government's laws.
Important times are ahead of the NGWF and any consumer interested in raising living and working conditions of the 4.5 million workers in the Bangladeshi garment industry. Let us all show our support and hope that the momentum will build and spread.
Source: NyTimes, Jim Yardley