Bloodstained Bangladeshi shirts and bloodletting by US govt
THE revelation by the US ambassador to Bangladesh on Monday—that an increasing number of people in his country believe America should not ‘buy shirts stained with the blood of Bangladeshi workers’—is perhaps not surprising. The collapse of the Rana Plaza at Savar on April 24, which resulted in the death of more than 1,000 people, mostly workers of five readymade garment factories housed in the ill-fated eight-storey structure, the fire at Tazreen Fashions at Ashulia on November 24, 2012, which killed more than 100 workers, and many other disasters in between and before seem to have portrayed the dollar-spinning apparel sector in Bangladesh as an industrial entity that thrives on not only the sweat but also blood, literally, of workers. Needless to say, a section of the garment factory owners are primarily responsible for such a negative image of Bangladesh’s RMG sector. Their sustained indifference to workers’ rights and workplace safety not only has resulted in the death of so many in eminently avoidable industrial disasters but looks to have endangered the RMG sector, a mainstay for the Bangladesh economy, as a whole.
The realisation of the American people that not just sympathy alone but sustained protests and effective boycotts are also needed to put an end to exploitation of the RMG workers in Bangladesh is indeed praiseworthy. However, they need to be reminded that their government, which has presided over two prolonged wars for more than a decade and been engaged in many other covert military actions in other parts of the world, and to which the ambassador belongs to, stands bereft of any moral authority or legitimacy to sermonise others, even the decidedly dictatorial regimes in West Asia and elsewhere in the world, on promotion and protection of rights, of workers or anyone else. They need to realise that the Bangladeshi shirts may be stained with the blood of workers but the words and deeds of their government are often soaked with the blood and gore of people in countries that the US-led forces have attacked or invaded. That the greed of a few factory owners may have resulted in the death of hundreds of Bangladeshi workers but the greed of the few Americans at the helms of US affairs, political and economic, for more control over global politics and resources has led to the killings of millions, mostly civilians, in lands they may not have even heard of before.
It is worth noting though that the American people have generally been among the first to criticise and condemn the murderous military misadventures by their government, in Vietnam, Korea, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia — the list may go on and on. It is also the American people that have taken to the street amidst the White House’s persistent war cry over Syria. They need to sustain such protests and force their government into deserting its destructive attitude and action. Otherwise, their tears for ‘the blood of Bangladeshi workers’ would be flooded out by the tears of those losing life and limb because of the US government’s apparently insatiable thirst for bloodletting on faraway lands.
Meanwhile, the American people need also to realise that wholesale boycott of Bangladeshi products may not be the answer. While the buyers must keep the government and the factory owners under pressure for ‘fundamental transformation’, they need to also offer ‘significant resources’ to ‘get it right on labour rights, fire safety and factory structural soundness’. Most importantly, the international buyers need to cut some slack on the manufacturers and exporters so that they are not forced to compromise on the legitimate entitlements of the workers to cope with the increasingly narrowing profit margin.
comments powered by Disqus
THE staggering increase in defaulted loan in the industrial sector in the last... Full story
How serious is President Obama and how serious are those lawmakers in the Capitol Hill — who say that they are spiritual children of Dr King and yet do just the opposite when it comes to walking the talk. Hypocrisy, sadly, continues to be the national... Full story