Year

2007

Degree Name

Master of Social Change and Development

Department

Centre for Asia Pacific Social Transformation Studies - Faculty of Arts

Abstract

The Readymade Garment (RMG) industry of Bangladesh has emerged as a competent garment producer in global garment business in recent times. This industry has successfully transformed Bangladesh into an export-oriented economy. The RMG industry also became the major foreign currency-earning sector with highest rates of absorption of industrial employment. Interestingly, women comprise more than 80 percent of the total labour force and most of them could be otherwise destitute or empty handed. In a patriarchal society like Bangladesh, the RMG industry effectively challenged the traditional view of conflating domesticity with femininity by allowing women of low-income backgrounds to move from the household to the labour market. Garment trade is regarded as a leading driver of globalisation. Though garment workers gain much by working in the garment industry the informal nature of job and adverse working conditions often threaten the livelihood possibilities of workers. This study focuses on the labour rights implementation in the RMG industry in Bangladesh. It is assumed that labour rights safeguard workers from negative consequences. It is also evident that labour rights increase labour productivity. Theoretically there are opportunities to establish labour rights in the RMG industry but in practice the picture is simply unsatisfactory. The recent labour unrest in Bangladesh is the outcome of longstanding violation of labour rights in the RMG industry. Labour rights can be ensured if Bangladesh Government can formulate and implement a comprehensive and effective labour law that incorporates labour rights in the RMG industry. The existing business model favoured multinational enterprises headquartered in developed countries and largely overlooks labourers’ interests especially in developing countries. The organizations such as ILO, WTO, which are supposed to protect labourers from insecurity, vulnerability and injustice, are somehow problematic in relation to the implementation of labour rights in Least Developed countries. The RMG industry is the lifeline of Bangladesh economy and it has the potentialities to reduce poverty to a large extent by gaining increasing share in the world apparel market. Implementation of labour rights can ensure sustainable livelihood of the garment workers, which in turn enhances sustainability of the RMG industry.

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