Building a Stronger NGWF
National Garment Workers Federation – Bangladesh
The garment sector is the biggest industry in Bangladesh, with more than 5500 factories employing more than 4.2 million workers – workers who earn just 5300BDT (68USD) per month. Rent in the slums surrounding factories is set to match the wages offered to employees, a practice which forces multiple members of households into low wage work to get by.
Conditions in garment factories in Bangladesh continue to hit headlines for all the wrong reasons. In 2013 the Rana Plaza building collapsed killing over 1000 workers and injuring approximately 2500; workers had been coerced back to work after cracks had appeared in the building on threat of a months salary being withheld. Campaigns around the world have drawn consumer attention to the conditions of garment workers – encouraging buyers to use their purchasing power to make ethical decisions about who has made their clothing.
UnionAID is proud to be partnering with the National Garment Workers Federation in Bangladesh, established in 1984 it is the country’s largest and oldest garment workers union. Headquartered in Dhaka, with 10 branch offices in major industrial zones there are 75 registered factory unions affiliated with the NGWF. Unions are organised at enterprise level and to be registered must obtain the signatures of 30% of workers in the factory they represent. Besides the 75 unions, the federation also has over 1000 factory committees. Total membership of the NGWF is 82,629. More than 60% of workers are women and of the 30 central executives 17 are women.
This year the NGWF will be helping organise a campaign around raising the minimum wage for garment workers. The funding they receive from UnionAID will help them run union rights and organising training workshops aimed at members – with the goal of increasing density and training unionists to recruit their fellow workers. The NGWF will also aim to develop modern organising strategies adapted for a Bangladeshi context.