The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Garment Workers at Risk

Aug 30, 2021

Bangladesh is currently reporting a high number of COVID cases, mainly due to the epidemic spreading among the nearly 4 million garment workers, 80% of whom are women.

Bangladesh is one of the world’s largest garment exporters, and the industry is the foundation of the country’s economy.

As the latest COVID wave hit Bangladesh last month, the government mandated a strict lockdown of all factories, offices, shops, and transport. However, garment factories that supplied top brands in Europe and the U.S., like H&M and Zara, were excluded from the nationwide lockdown.

Fearing these brands would redirect orders to other countries, the owners of the garment factories demanded no COVID restriction measures in workplaces. On August 8, the government allowed all the country’s 5,000 garment factories to reopen without restrictions.

Hundreds of thousands of workers who went to their villages to sit out the lockdown had to race back to the cities. Many walked tens of miles only to face overstuffed trains, ferries, and buses. “It was a mad rush to get home when the lockdown was imposed, and now we are in trouble again getting back to work,” said one garment worker.

The lockdown did nothing but increase COVID cases as people migrated from the cities to the countryside and back, into factories with hundreds and thousands of workers.

Only one thing matters for the capitalist class—their bottom line. Their politicians are there to make it happen. All else be damned.