Who are textile workers

Femnet e.V.

What are the working conditions in low-wage countries like Bangladesh?

The women who toil for western consumers are extremely poorly paid and have no labor or social security guarantees such as employment contracts, health insurance, pensions, maternity leave or vacation entitlements.

Two overtime hours per day are common, but many workers work more overtime and sometimes work up to 100 hours per week. in order to achieve a wage that almost secures the survival of their families.

Many are paid according to a daily production target. This is so unrealistically high that seamstresses cannot possibly achieve it on a normal working day of eight hours. That's why they have to work overtime.

Due to the enormous volume of work, many respondents only leave the factory between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., after 12 to 14 hours of work. Many then need an hour to go home, where they also do the housework.

In addition, many women work night shifts, for example when goods have to be shipped. You then work continuously and with little food until midnight. Many sleep on the bare floor in the factory because they are afraid of returning home alone at night.

If they refuse to work overtime or night shifts, the workers will be punished - e.g. their wages will be reduced or sick leave refused.

The seamstresses are often sexually harassed, humiliated and insulted, but the women hardly talk about it out of shame.

Miscarriages also occur again and again because pregnant women do not receive any protection: Many have to work standing up even when pregnant, and there are no additional breaks for breastfeeding mothers.

If the women try to organize themselves, they are usually fired immediately, which is why only a small number of seamstresses are unionized.

Source: Campaign for Clean Clothes, (2012), Im Visier Discounter, p. 20ff