abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb
Article

1 May 2019

Author:
Mayisha Begum, Gal-dem

Commentary: On International Worker's Day we must recognise individual consumption is preventing us from showing effective collective solidarity with garment workers

"International Worker’s Day marks six years of struggle by garment workers in Bangladesh", 1 May 2019

...The proximity of the Rana Plaza disaster anniversary to International Worker’s Day feels starkly symbolic of the disturbingly similar reality faced by workers both in the 19th Century, and in 2019... [R]esearch and investigation into “fast fashion” suggests that the exploitation of garment workers by brands has intensified...

[I]n Bangladesh in December 2018, after... protest[s] to demand a minimum wage, at least 65 workers were arrested over baseless charges, and as many as 11,600 workers were fired without legal justification...

...When workers who were affected by the Rana Plaza factory collapse failed to receive adequate support... survivors underwent a hunger strike, and issued a set of 11 demands to the government... [L]ast week one of the volunteers involved in the Rana Plaza rescue mission killed himself... further indicating the lack of support for survivors...

We are sold the idea that through demanding more ethically produced clothes, we can convince corporations to change their purchasing practices... [This] promotes an individualistic, neoliberal form of activism, putting the responsibility of change on the consumers instead of the corporations... Ethical consumption also depoliticises exploitation...

A sustainable response... requires... re-centring resources around the formation of movements that actively show collective solidarity with workers. Successful campaigns in the garment industry include those in which workers lead and develop a sustained, local movement on the ground, while activists in the Global North simply provide a supporting role, utilising their position to demand change on the side of brands...

Story Timeline