Bangladeshi Workers Struggle Against Climate of Fear, Intimidation

Jasmine Malik Chua

The deadly collapse of Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza factory building may have sparked a flurry of fire and building-safety reforms, but garment workers continue to struggle to be heard, according to a new report by the International Labor Rights Forum, a nonprofit advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. Drawing from interviews with more than 70 people, Our Voices, Our Safety: Bangladeshi Garment Workers Speak Out depicts a “chilling web” of intimidation and violence that spans the South Asian country’s billion-dollar apparel industry. “We set out to talk with workers about fire, electrical, and structural safety issues,” said Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, whose staff conducted most of the worker interviews for the report. “But almost all workers wanted to talk to us about more than the necessary technical repairs and renovations in their factories.”

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