Bangladesh’s garment industry is booming and setting export records but workers struggle to get by. Senior sewing operators toil for up to 14 hours a day. Workers have no time for recreation and frequently have to work at their factory on weekends. Couples live in cramped quarters, a rented single room in a house with a tin roof. They have little privacy and often have to share a toilet, bathroom and kitchen with another family who live in the same house.
A huge workload follows a slight wage increase. Workers in an assembly line-like system of production are now expected to produce more items of clothing per hour. Workers who used to stitch 100 pieces of apparel in one hour are now being ordered to stitch 120 to 130 pieces. Workers in the readymade garment trade, the most dynamic sector of Bangladesh’s economy that produces clothes for leading western brands, do not receive health coverage from their employers.
Bangladesh readymade garments exports tripled over a ten-year period and account for 84 per cent of Bangladesh’s total export volume. Every year, the country’s garment sector, which employs 3.5 million people, keeps setting records for exports and dominating all Bangladesh sectors in that area.