1.0 Research background
Bangladesh is the second-largest apparel manufacturer after China. The readymade garment (RMG) industry is the backbone of Bangladesh’s economy and the main driver of its GDP growth. Over the last fifteen years, the growth of the sector has been spectacular. Currently, there are more than 5,000 garment manufacturing firms operating in Bangladesh. The country’s RMG sector has provided employment to more than 4 million people. Over 80 percent of them are women, who were previously outside the wage economy (BGMEA, 2016). At present, RMG is the main foreign exchange earning sector, accounting for more than 80% of the country’s exports. The share of the RMG sector increased dramatically from 3.89% of total exports in the fiscal year 1983/84 to about 81.13% in the fiscal year 2010-111 (Ministry of Commerce, 2015).
However, tremendous work pressure, wage penalties, various types of health hazards and oppression are common for women workers in the RMG factories (Ahmed, 2015). The wage of an unskilled male laborer in the rural areas is higher than the wage earned by an unskilled male laborer in the garment industry (Rahman 2014). In addition, for a female worker, the wage rate in the garment industry is higher than any other available employment. Despite exploitative working conditions, as well as structural and personal violence, most authors highlight ambivalences in women workers’ situation in the RMG industry. While women workers are reluctant to join union federations because of their male-dominated hierarchies and their closeness to political power, women workers organized spontaneous protests e.g. against non-payment of overtime. Since 1994 some of them are organized in the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union (BIGUF). This informal union goes beyond a narrow conventional trade unionist approach, addresses the everyday needs of women and promotes female leadership (Dannecker 2012). Therefore, it has been a significant issue to study the above-discussed challenges faced by the workers of Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry.
1.2 Research rationale
Freedom of association and collective bargaining is very limited in the RMG sector of Bangladesh. Rahman and Langford (2012) have described under military rule, significant inter-union rivalry, corruption and nepotism due to strong links with the political parties became permanent features of labor politics. In this context, the employers of the mushrooming RMG sector were vigilant against the forming of any labor organization, on the excuse that politicized and corrupted labor unionism would bring production to a halt for any reason. Union formation is also undercut through various deceitful strategies such as the short-term increase of wages, bonuses or overtime rates; union leaders are bought off through bribes or promotion (Morshed 2014). The lack of outside support, along with internal divisions and weaknesses, is an additional factor behind the failure of union formation in the Bangladeshi RMG sector. Some union leaders are less educated, coming directly from the factory floor, while others have higher degrees but lack working-class experience. Therefore, till now, there were no significant links between the garment workers and civil society, historically represented by the urban, educated middle-class, which dominated broad political movements (Rahman and Langford, 2012).
1.3 Aim and objectives
The aim of this study is to explore the labor rights and conditions of the work environment in the garments industry of Bangladesh. Then, the study will recommend both government of Bangladesh and the authority of the Bangladesh garment industry on how the work environment and labor rights can be improved.
1) To analyze how exiting labor rights acts are being implemented in the Bangladesh garments industry
2) To evaluate how exiting labor rights are being violated in the garments industry of Bangladesh
3) To investigate the present condition of the work environment of the Bangladesh garment industry
4) To recommend the government of Bangladesh to improve and implement labor rights.
5) To recommend the authority of the Bangladesh garment industry to improve the condition of the work environment and labor rights
1.4 Research question
1.4.1 Key question
How can labor rights and work environments be improved/developed in the garments industry of Bangladesh?
- a) What Acts for labor rights of Bangladesh garments exist?
- b) How are the exiting Acts being implemented in the garments industry of Bangladesh?
- c) How are the labor rights Acts being violated in the Bangladesh garments industry?
- d) How can labor rights be established in the garment sector of Bangladesh?
- e) What is the present condition of the work environment in the Bangladesh garments industry?
- f) How can work-environment be improved in the Bangladesh garments industry?
1.5 Methodologies and methods
The proposed research study will apply several methodologies. As the researcher has an initial understanding of the proposed research topic and subject matters, and the proposed research topic has huge literature and theories and models developed, the proposed study will follow a deductive research approach. As both quantitative and qualitative data will be required to fulfill the research objectives, the proposed study will apply both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. The case study method will mainly be used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. In addition, for collecting qualitative data, interview and observation methods will also be applied.
The interview will be conducted with the management people of the Bangladesh garment industry to evaluate the current and past resources, where the interview questions will be open-ended. The observation technique will be used to analyze the quality of workplaces and work environment in the garment sector of Bangladesh. For collecting quantitative data, archival records and survey technique with a close-ended questionnaire will be applied. The survey will be conducted on the garments workers on the challenges faced in their workplaces. For analyzing the quantitative and statistical data, the researcher will use software tools including MS Excel Sheets, Bar Chart, Pie Chart, Line Graph, Table etc. In addition, for testing the hypothesis researcher will apply statistical data analysis methods including T-test and ANOVA test. On the other hand, for analyzing the qualitative data collected, the researcher will apply thematic and content and feature analysis to summarize the big statement in the presentation format………………………………