An Excerpt from the Report
Forida makes clothes for Target Australia, H&M and other global brands.
Forida makes 35 cents an hour making our clothes.
Forida is 22 years old. She lives with her husband, a rice miller, and her toddler son in Kallyanpur, a slum area in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She also supports her mother-in-law, who looks after her son while she is at work. Forida and her family have lived in a dark, hot and cramped compound with six other families, including her landlord’s, for three years. There is just one toilet and place to bathe for the whole compound, and two shared cooking areas. Constructed mostly of tin and wood, her living conditions are crowded and rundown. Forida says, “When it rains, there’s a smell in our home.”
Behind the rental property is a big, black polluted pond, which attracts a consistent influx of mosquitos, especially in Forida’s room — half of which is built over the water. This increases her and her family’s risk of exposure to mosquito-borne viral diseases like malaria, dengue fever and Chikungunya.
Towards the end of each month, Forida’s salary runs out and she just eats “old watery rice, with salt and green chili”. If she was paid a living wage, Forida could, “provide food for the last week of the month [and] eat better food like vegetables and meat”.
Each day, like all garment workers, Forida is given a target that she must complete before she can go home. Forida makes shirt collars and has a target of 80 collars per hour for a striped or patterned shirt, and 100 collars per hour for a solid colour shirt. These targets are impossible to finish within regular working hours, so she is forced to work overtime to complete the immense workload. During busier times, when international clothing brands place demanding orders, she might work as late as midnight. Often, she is given no notice of overtime, so cannot make care arrangements for her son. If production targets are not met, 500 taka ($7.70) is deducted from her wages as punishment.
The pressure at work is intense. If she makes any mistakes, she is verbally abused by her supervisor. “I feel embarrassed when I am scolded in front of so many people and then I feel bad about myself because I’m not able to do the work properly. If I could do the work properly, then I wouldn’t be scolded so hard and this makes me cry.”
Forida hopes for more realistic targets and a better wage.