Why are factory workers treated badly

Working conditions in textile production : Those who resist will be fired

Ten to twelve hours a day at the sewing machine, plus repeated beatings, verbal attacks and sexual harassment by superiors as well as a wage that does not allow social security or education for the family: according to the Verdi service union, the working conditions in global textile production are multinational corporations still inhuman in Asia. Trade unionists who denounced the conditions at suppliers in India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka and who fought for fairer conditions in their factories are particularly often subject to reprisals and are not infrequently dismissed, said trade unionist Heiner Köhnen from the international education network Tie on Friday. "The fashion companies have an obligation to put pressure on their suppliers so that working conditions can finally improve," demanded Verdi federal board member Stefanie Benefitberger.

The monthly wage in Bangladesh is 9.50 euros

Verdi's assessment is based on his own observations and eyewitness reports from Asian textile mills, as well as on a paper by the National Garment Workers Federation published this month. In the document, the organization lists how badly supplier companies from H&M, Primark, C&A, as well as Tschibo, Aldi, Lidl and Kik treat their employees. Taslima Taslima worked for years as a seamstress in a textile factory in Gazipur (Bangladesh) to earn a living for herself and her son. In the country, the industry pays women workers like Taslima an average of 9.50 euros per month; The young woman, like her roughly 1,000 mostly female colleagues, had to work ten or more hours a day - until the contingent of trousers, shirts or T-shirts ordered by international fashion companies was finished. “We often sat at the sewing machine late into the night,” the 30-year-old recalls of her previous job. Anyone who did not meet the stipulated workload was threatened to continue. "Not even pregnant women were taken into consideration."

Trade unionists are often fired

In the meantime, the seamstress and more than 100 of her colleagues have lost their work. “The management fired us when we joined forces to demand better conditions from our employer,” says Taslima. Instead of responding, the company hired people to intimidate the organized workers in the company. Later dismissals without notice were issued against activists without paying the workers for the work they did. For her it is now practically impossible to find a new job at one of the big sewing factories in the country, says Taslima: "All unionists are on a black list of the industry along with a photo and identification number." The 30-year-old does not want to give up. “Unions are essential to achieve better working conditions in the industry,” she says.

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