Thursday, July 25, 2013

Justice for Bangladeshi garment workers

Bangladeshi family members view a portrait display of garment workers still missing from the factory collapse last April in Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka. This phenomenon of creating photographic tributes exists around the world not just as an expression of grief but as a demand for justice. We have seen them in country after country, from the victims of fascism under Franco in Spain to the victims of dictatorship in Honduras to the Mayan victims of genocide in Guatemala & in so many other countries. These displays don’t go away after a year or two but last for decades, haunting justice until justice gets its due.

After some initial damage control & a flurry of mea culpas from retailers & the Bangladeshi government, the Bangladeshi victims & their families have yet to receive justice for this monstrous crime. And to be clear, this is what justice demands for the worst industrial disaster in sweatshop history: a full accounting of those workers still missing; a full investigation followed by prosecutions of all involved, including government officials who allowed hundreds of workers to be endangered; full compensation to those disabled & injured in the accident & to those who lost a family member; prosecution of all retailers involved in compromising the safety & well-being of garment workers; the strict implementation & enforcement of safety policies & protective laws, including the banning of child labor; & an immediate increase in wages & benefits for all Bangladeshi workers in & outside of the garment industry.

Bangladesh is not one giant sweatshop where retailers from the plundering countries can go to make killing fields for profit. Savar was a wakeup call & Bangladeshi workers are leading the way by protesting in their hundreds at the site of the building collapse demanding compensation & a full accounting. Our role is to render them solidarity by educating & agitating about the predatory retailers spreading the sweatshop production system around the world like a malignant virus.

(Photo by Munir uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images)

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