A Church Call to Action: Justice For Bangladeshi Garment Workers

The Church of Bangladesh Group gathered atthe Methodist Central Hall Westminsteryesterday to launch a campaign and advocacy resource pack that calls for globaljustice, wage justice and living justice for Bangladeshi garmentworkers. 

A harrowing account of the Rana Plaza building collapse was sharedby Bangladeshi garment worker, Monika Hambrom via Skype. Monika wasworking on the 6th floor of the Rana Plaza in Savar on the day thebuilding collapsed. She described how the workers had told themanager about the cracks in the building the day before the tragedyand that they had been told to go home that day but to come in thefollowing day when they would also be able to collect their wages.This was the day the factory collapsed and Monika was leftseriously injured. Over 1000 others were left dead. Monika Hambrom,said: "I cannot sleep since the collapse of the building-it stillcomes to me in my dreams. I want to continue my work but in a safeplace and for a just wage."

Speakers at the launch event included Very Revd JohnChristie, Church of Scotland; Dr Daleep MukarjiOBE, Methodist Church in Britain; Bishop PaulSarker, Church of Bangladesh; Monika Hambrom,Bangladeshi Garment Worker, as well as Nick Debois MP.

The Very Revd John Christie, said: "It was not until the dreadfultragedy at Savar that it became clear to me, that for the Church,silence is no longer an option." In reference to Bishop Sarker'sletter following the tragedy he added: "the General Assembly of theChurch of Scotland voted unanimously to instruct its World MissionCouncil to undertake an ecumenical consultation with the Church ofBangladesh and other member churches of the Bangladesh Group toraise awareness and campaign for significantly improved workplacesafety, conditions and pay for garment workers." 

Since 2005 an estimated 1,800 Bangladesh garment workers havebeen killed in factory fires and collapses. Dr Daleep Mukarji,said: "we as a Church need to take sides and be prophetic, this isabout justice." He further highlighted that the garment industry inBangladesh consists mainly of female garment workers; adding:"education, money and power in the hands of women will always makea change."

Dr Daleep Mukarji, Very Revd John Christie and Nick Debois MPreminded listeners that the launch is not about boycotting butabout safety improvement and social justice. As Advent approachesthe Church of Bangladesh Group is calling for action. They askconsumers when they shop to send a letter and ask thenecessary questions to high street stores aboutwhere clothes are manufactured and what the conditions are like forpeople working in those factories.

1,131 people died and 2,500 were injured when the eight story RanaPlaza collapsed at Savar, Bangladesh. Bishop Paul Sarker, said: "weshould thank God for those who survived the Savar tragedy, butremember those who were injured and deceased."