28 August 2013

Churches Look Behind the Labels

Churches Look Behind the Labels

• UK Churches in Solidarity with Garment Workers in Bangladesh

The Methodist Church, as part of the UK Churches' Bangladesh Group, will join a global coalition of Churches to launch a campaign against the plight of Bangladeshi garment workers.

The coalition will meet on 5 September at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, at 12pm to discuss workers' rights. This follows the collapse of the nine-storey Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh where over 1,127 people were killed in April. Guest speakers at the event will include the Very Revd John Christie, Former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; Bishop Paul Sarker, Moderator of the Church of Bangladesh; and a garment factory worker from Bangladesh.

Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, said: "The distressing tragedy at Savar has given us the opportunity to take action and make a difference for garment workers in Bangladesh. As the story of the inexcusable loss of life at Rana Plaza fades from our media, I hope people will use these resources to make sure it doesn't fade from our memory before we have done our best to create irresistible pressure for change."

The Methodist Church has been working alongside the Church of Scotland, the Church in Wales, the mission organisation US, Anglican Alliance, Oxford Mission, the Church Mission Society and the Council for World Mission, in order to campaign with the Church of Bangladesh for safe working conditions and fair wages for Bangladeshi garment factory workers.

The materials and resources shared at the event will offer greater insight into the situation for workers within Bangladesh. The resource pack will include an action plan for grassroot campaigning, a Bible study and prayer and a letter for consumers to send to their retailers demanding improvements to the pay and working conditions of garment workers. The coalition is also taking the campaign to social media, using the Twitter hashtags #LookBehindTheLabel #garmentworkers and #Bangladesh.

The Rt Revd Paul Sarker, Moderator of the Church of Bangladesh, said: "Importers and buyers should not stop their garments business in Bangladesh. At present the garment manufacturing sector is the second largest foreign exchange earner of Bangladesh. A large poor section of our population is surviving on this sector. We have to keep in mind that the garment manufacturers are rich, powerful and greedy. In Bangladesh most businessmen have no ethics. They want only easy profit."

To find out more about the situation for workers in Bangladesh, download the latest Methodist Church podcast, Bangladesh: The Real Cost of Clothing to listen to Steve Pearce discussing the socio-economic realities for garment workers in Bangladesh.

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