Wage, Socio-Economic Condition and Grievances of Garment Workers

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1.0 Introduction
The garment industry of Bangladesh has been the key export division and a main source of foreign exchange for the last 30 years. At present, the country generates about $10 billion worth of products each year by exporting garment. The industry provides employment to about 3 million workers of whom 90% are women. It has been a major source of employment for rural migrant women in a country that has increasingly limited rural livelihood options, and where women migrants have been largely excluded from formal work in the cities. In the garment industry in Bangladesh, tasks are allocated largely on the basis of gender. Export-oriented industry is supposed to maintain working conditions that are comparable to international standard because the industry produces for the international market. Therefore, Export oriented industrialization is supposed to have a positive impact on working conditions. However, in most cases, export-oriented industry is based on sub-standard working conditions. Such sub-standard working conditions in the garment industry affect men and women differently because they hold different jobs. Women suffer the worst from adverse working conditions because they hold low-skilled jobs where occupational hazards are greater. Most of the garment factory buildings are overcrowded, congested and poorly ventilated. As a result garment workers are exposed to toxic substance and dust. Raw materials contain dust and fiber particles that hang in the air. Dye, a toxic substance emitted from colored cloth, spreads in the workroom. The workers, particularly the operators and sewing helpers, who are mostly women, continuously inhale these substances. Most factories do not have adequate ventilation and exhaust fans and few workers use masks. Women workers face wage differentials, insecurity and discrimination at various levels and places. They also face a variety of challenges both at work and home in coping with their daily responsibilities. Researchers have suggested a number of potential reasons for women choosing to work in the Bangladesh RMG sector-because of economic hardship because the family is unable to provide them and as a means of increasing marriage potential. Women are still under strong patriarchal control and caught between traditional values and modernity. They have little or no control over their income. They are burdened with a double day’s work, face discrimination at work in terms of wage differentials and gender difference, work in poor conditions, and cannot feel safe on the streets. They are denied reasonable legal support.

1.1 Origin of the report
This term paper titled, “Wage, socio-economic condition and grievances of garment workers” has been conducted under the proper guidance, suggestions, continuous and direct supervision of our very sagacious Senior Fulbright Fellow (USA), Honorable Professor (IBA), and our very caring Course Instructor of Managerial Economics, Dr. A.K.M. Saiful Majid, as the partial requirement of the course.

1.2 Rationale of the study
Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector is one of the booming and the highest export earning sectors of the economy of our country. Over the last 3 decades there is continuous investment on the sector and growing steadily over the years. Since early eighties when this industry came into surface it has been contributing a lot in terms of foreign exchange earnings and providing employment to the socially disadvantaged group i.e. women from low income families. Since the RMG industry employs close to 90% women workers it is important to investigate their working conditions. This paper makes an attempt to study the working conditions and the grievances of the women workers engaged in RMG and make a comparative analysis of the same based on the scale of operation of the factories. From the early 1980s, Bangladesh undertook a series of economic reforms to open up its economy under the aegis of the IMF and the World...
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