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Daily Star (Bangladesh): Our Workers' Misery in a Foreign Land: Government Must Act

July 12, 2006  |  Share


Our Workers' Misery in a Foreign Land: Government Must Act

A recent report published by the National Labor Committee (NLC) based in New York and carried by our media, paints a very distressing picture of Bangladeshi workers in some of the garment factories in Jordan. It is even more upsetting the government has not come out with any statement regarding the report or the actual condition of our workers except for both the relevant ministry in Dhaka and our embassy in Jordan expressing ignorance.

One has to be thankful for the report of the NLC but for which we would have continued to be unaware of the most inhuman conditions that our workers are enduring in that country. One cannot but be surprised at the sheer magnitude of the plight of our workers, who are being driven like slaves for many months now by their employers, and our embassy in Amman is apparently unaware of these.

Our workers are there with valid documents and on very specific employment terms. And to think that they are given as many as only one percent of the promised wages, and that too not regularly, and made to work far longer hours than are allowed in any civilised country, is disturbing.

There are several questions that we would like to put. First, if these workers are there on valid documents and lawfully employed, on whom does the responsibility of ensuring that the concerned parties keep their side of the agreement, devolves? Secondly, why is that we have to learn about our workers' plight in a foreign land after reports are published by agencies in a third country. Thirdly, why hasn't our government moved as yet to address the situation?

Although the Jordan government has admitted to violation of workers rights in some of the garment factories and has taken certain corrective measures, that such a condition should have prevailed in the first place in special economic zones, or evaded inspection, is rather surprising. It must take to task the responsible persons.

It is the responsibility of our embassy also to ensure that our workers get their part of the deal and that they are not subjected mental, physical or sexual harassment, which they clearly were in this case. Admittedly, they have failed to do their job, and must too be held to account.

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