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Big brands, poverty wages: textile workers are rising up in Bangladesh

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Reportage. For the past five days, the working men and women who manufacture cheap garments for Western clothing companies have been blocking the streets.

written by Giuliano Battiston


January 13, 2019

In the immense exhibition area of ​​the International Convention City in Bashundara, government representatives and businessmen in power suits could be seen crowding the booths at the sixteenth edition of the DTG, the most important trade fair for textile machinery in the world, featuring 1,600 booths and 1,200 exhibitors from 37 countries. Meanwhile, a few kilometers away, in the Shewrapara district, as well as further north in the “industrial belt” of Mirpur, Savar and Ashulia, thousands upon thousands of textile workers, all wearing sandals, have put up roadblocks in protest.

This is Dhaka, the crowded capital of Bangladesh, which is a small patch of land inhabited by 160 million people overlooking the Bay of Bengal. At least 4 million work in the textile industry, which is second only to China on a global level in terms of trade volume: €26 billion each year, 80 percent of all of Bangladesh’s foreign trade. The fact that the country’s GDP is growing at a rate of 7.8 percent per year is, at least in part,........

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