imperfect | world | 2010

Archive for February, 2008

Sunday
Feb 3,2008

About two weeks ago, a delegation of garment factory owners went to petition the government to seek help in a variety of financial matters. One of their demands was ration vouchers for the workers. This was not an act of charity or concern for the workers. This was an act of an industry acting out of greed and avarice. It does not want to pay its workers a living wage despite tripartite agreements, publicly announced undertakings, memoranda of understandings and what have you. Instead the owners of the garment industry in Bangladesh constantly dangle the threat of going bust to seek financial subsidies. Rather than addressing the critical needs of the industry, they have their vision firmly fixed on their own short term concerns.

Take for example the murder of a worker earlier this week and the injuring of another allegedly for theft at Vertex Fashion Ltd. What kind of modern industry resorts to savage beatings and in this instance murder to deal with such allegations? Yes it is the Bangladesh garments industry. And the Daily Star editorial pulls its punches when it limply says “One has to see whether their action reflected any attitude on the part of their owners or higher officials.” Beatings and much worse offences are common place in this industry. There is a culture of intimidation and violence, including sexual violence, in bangladesh’s flagship manufacturing industry. Have no doubts about that and it is well documented. There is also the threat of summary dismissal.

All this together with the quiet violence of denying workers a living wage and safe working conditions have been constants in this industry since the days of its birth in the 1970s. Rest in peace Mohammad Khokon. Your death cost this multi-billion dollar industry around 7000 USD.

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Saturday
Feb 2,2008

Abdul Latif

How come no one told me about this? How come I missed this news? And if you have missed it too please read this Telegraph obituary about Abdul Latif, British-Bangladeshi restaurateur extraordinaire. This is the man who invented a curry called “curry hell” ( and no doubt other dishes which testify to the under-developed palate of the typical englishman). He was quite a character and famously offered free curries for 5 years to British servicemen who had fought in Iraq. He also offered free curries to pregnant women and two rugby personalities! As a brit-bangladeshi, it wouldn’t be right if there wasn’t some financial gondogol somewhere…indeed in 2004 he failed to pay a VAT bill and went into liquidation. He died of a heart attack this January ….and he was only 53.