Project location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Funding: £75,000
Year / duration: 2010 / 3 Years
Partner: War on Want

In Bangladesh, more than three million people work in over 5,000 garment factories producing cheap clothing in appalling working conditions. Bangladesh is the third biggest exporter of clothes in the world after China and Italy, with 85% of its exports sold in Europe and the United States. The pressure applied by international retailers to turn around clothing cheaply and quickly sees factories flouting existing labour laws, and subjecting garment workers to long working hours, abusive treatment and extremely low and erratic pay.

TRAID is supporting War on Want and local partner the National Garment Worker’s Federation (NGWF) to empower garment workers, especially women, to defend their rights through trade unions and to claim their rights under existing labour law. The project is working to expose abuses and to influence government, both in Bangladesh and in the UK, to set up mechanisms to redress labour rights violations. By promoting better working conditions, the livelihoods of millions of Bangladeshi garment workers and their families will be improved.

Since the project began, a hard hitting campaign led by the NGWF saw a new minimum wage for garment workers representing an 80% increase for the lowest paid workers. However, this is still far below the living wage and the NGWF is continuing to campaign for fair pay for workers and their families.

The NGWF has negotiated settlements on behalf of garment workers in 54 collective cases of labour rights abuses enabling 500,000 workers to receive compensation totalling around £650,000. In addition, more than 15,000 workers have received legal advice and more than 4,000 have been trained on their basic labour rights.

In the longer-term, the NGWF has been campaigning for a safer work place for garment workers. The significance of this in the wake of the recent deaths of 1,100 garment workers (in April 2013) when a factory collapsed cannot be underestimated. The project is playing a vital role in bringing urgently needed improvements to the working conditions, pay and access to rights of garment workers in Bangladesh.