Industrialization in Bangladesh

Isabella Laufer

Three Pictures

The three pictures directly above are ones that I thought provided all different aspects of hardships that the Bangladesh workers are enduring. The first is what I think seemed to spark all of the controversy regarding the factories and conditions of labor and living. I found this picture on a website called Ketzali, which had an article mentioning that the Bangladesh factory workers were beginning to earn higher wages after the collapse of the factory buildings not long before. This picture embodies everyday life for those workers, the piles of clothing to me, represents an endless amount of work that will tirelessly keep flowing. Following the collapse of the factory buildings, on of their major consumers, Gap clothing claimed they were not associated with the factory or aware of its conditions, even though Gap clothing was found in the buildings after the collapse. Murray Worthy, the campaign manager for the anti-poverty charity War on Want stated in an article for The Independent, “It’s a straightforward statement that they don’t care at all about the safety of their workers and aren’t interested in taking action to put that right.” This man was one of many to speak openly about the injustices regarding companies proactively trying to change working conditions. Another detail that I notice in the picture are the face masks on the majority of the workers. This indicates the conditions that they worked in and that it was not a healthy environment to be in every hour of every day. These workers were not allowed to rebel either, as seen in the second picture, the rioting that occurred because of the unfair conditions and wages was immediately dealt with using brutality. Kalpana Akter of the Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity told BBC news that in the past rebellion was faced with "beatings and harassment,'' whenever new associations or unions were attempted. But following the collapse of the factory buildings as seen in the third picture, new reforms regarding factory conditions were brought to the attention of the Bangladesh government. As a result of the building collapse many lost their lives, one report from The Independent, at the event came from grieving victim of the crash who yelled "My brother has died. My sister has died. Their blood will not be valueless." Although there are changes occurring every day making conditions better, the loss has been so great that there will most likely never be a full recovery.

Five Adjectives Describing Their Situation

1. Destruction

2. Pain

3. Inhumane

4. Turmoil

5. Loss

The adjectives I chose greatly reflect the situation that many Bangladesh factory workers were in, or still are currently. They have experienced destruction of the factories they work in, destruction of their families, and the destruction of their jobs, all due to the poor conditions they lived in. The buildings within the factory were unstable and their collapse was inevitable. When they crashed down, many lives were lost and many went missing. Before they collapsed, the destruction had already begun with the terrible living and working conditions of the workers. I chose this word because destruction has two meanings in this situation, one is the physical destruction of the buildings when they fell down, and the other is the destruction of the families due to all of the poor conditions they dealt with daily. The second word I chose to describe the nature of industrialization in Bangladesh is pain. This word seemed to be fitting considering all of the events that those workers experienced throughout the events that unfolded and continue to unravel. Pain was endured when family members were lost, during the endless hours of work without sleep, or even the pain of a pile of concrete landing on you during the building collapse. The third word that I feel connects to the factory industries in Bangladesh is inhumane. The conditions that those people have to endure and work through is extremely unfair and dangerous in countless instances. Their pay is the bare minimum, and they are taken advantage of because of their desperation to provide for their families and live better lives. They are faced with sleep deprivation, malnutrition, and many possible diseases because of their work ethics and conditions within the factories. Another adjective that I think suits the situation is turmoil. The unrest and distress that has come from the building collapses, and the death toll has caused many to further question the conditions within these factories. During an interview for BBC News, Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association told the reporter that, "Owners decided to close their factories on safety grounds after workers went on a rampage almost every day after the collapse of Rana Plaza." The riots and outbursts of factory workers have caused much publicity and brought a lot of attention to the conditions of factories such as these. The last adjective that I found that is very relevant to the Bangladesh factories is loss. I think that this is especially relevant because workers left their families to come and work for the factories, and when they arrived, they lost many of their rights as humans. When the factory buildings collapsed, they lost friends, and they lost the only way that they could make money to help their families. In my opinion, these adjectives seemed to reflect the situation that the workers are going through.

The Future of Labor

The labor conditions and manufacturing in Bangladesh today and in the recent past have been unfair for workers and growing exponentially in sales. I predict that if these conditions continue for the factory workers, unions will form and strikes will arise. The people working in these factories are treated poorly physically and their wages are ridiculously low. If this continues, similar to the British industrial revolution, if workers begin to rebel against their employers they may have to comply to the workers requests. As the British discovered, the functioning of the industries rely on the workers doing their jobs. If all of them go on a strike, their bosses will most likely have to change the way of life in the workers favor. According to the Bangladesh Accord Foundation, the country's economy has grown about six percent a year in the past 20 years which has led to a large population increase. The factories have hired mostly women, and due to the terrible conditions, over 1800 have died since 2005. Although there are no unions within the actual factory workers, The Wall Street Journal's Syed Zain Al-Mahmood reported after the building collapse about 18 months earlier, major consumers of the factories like Walmart, Gap, and VF Corp have joined forces to create the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. This group helps to protect the rights of workers and make living conditions more tolerable. The Bangladesh factory work force is not as well developed at the ones in the British industrial revolution, but if the current way of life for these workers continue, it is only a matter of time before changes occur. Similar to the British revolution, the Bangladesh economy has grown because small farmers are moving to the city for work, this has led to a growth in industry and urbanization over time. The three factors of production that made Britain so successful are also what is helping to enhance industry in Bangladesh as well. They have a vast resources for production, coming from farming, trade as well as natural resources. They have an extremely large work force because of the increase in urbanization and willing citizens looks for jobs. The wealth aspect comes from the consumers buying the factories product. This keeps the industries functioning and allows for a steady flow of production. Bangladesh has had the same problem as Britain in that, with the growing urbanization, brings health hazards. Shamim Hayder Talukder, chief executive officer of a local NGO, told IRIN, the humanitarian news site that “Dhaka’s population is increasing abnormally, but health facilities are not increasing in line with that.” This is one of the issues that the British had to overcome, and I think that the Bangladesh people will grow in a healthier, more efficient way as time goes on. All of these things were present in the British industrial revolution, and this why I think that in the future, there will be changes to both benefit the economy and the workers lives.
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Paragraph Sources:

1. "Fatal factory collapse must be wake-up call." The Safety & Health Practitioner July 2014: 25+. Academic OneFile. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.

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2. "Ketzali Accessories - Blog - Bangladesh Factory Workers' Salaries Go Up !" Ketzali Accessories - Blog - Bangladesh Factory Workers' Salaries Go Up ! Ketzali Accessories, 6 Nov. 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.

3. Members, Company. "About Bangladesh's Garment Industry | The Bangladesh Accord Foundation." Accord. Bangladesh Accord Foundation, Nov. 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2014. <>.

National Newspapers:

1. AL-MAHMOOD, SYED ZAIN. "Alliance Sets Plan to Finance Bangladesh Factory Upgrades." Frontier Markets RSS. The Wall Street Journal, 8 Dec. 2014. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.

2. "Dhaka Unrest Forces Factory Closures." BBC News. Ed. Steve Herrmann. BBC, 14 May 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.

Fox, Emily Jane. "Bangladesh Factory Collapse Kills at Least 160, Reviving Safety Questions." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.

3. Morrison, Sarah. "Bangladesh Factory Collapse: Gap Refuses to Back Safety Deal." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 14 May 2014. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.