Bangladesh, The Ultimate “Right-to-Work” State

Globalization for the Common Good Initiative: Senior Ambassador

By Keith Roberts PhD

Scott Walker, the Club for Growth, The McIver Institute, ALEC, the Heritage Foundation and other ‘Free Market’ think tanks continue to make villains out of unions and pressure states to become “right-to -work” states. Walker did promise Diane Hendricks (one of his Plutocrat co-owners) that he would “divide and conquer” the Wisconsin’s middle class in his determination to make Wisconsin a “right-to-work” state. He has done this successfully, with the help of right-wing radio, and now Wisconsinites are pitted against each other, private employees are pitted against public employees and rural against urban dwellers. But, no reduction in wages and workers rights will satisfy the plutocrats who own Walker. As long as there is a 14 year girl in Bangladesh who they can force to work for $38 a week, these billionaires will not be happy with American workers making anything more than minimum wage. In fact, Ron Johnson, our Senior Senator recently told a constituent that he supports the lowering of the minimum wage as a stimulant to job creation. Just as there is no end to their greed and no amount of money or profit that will satisfy the free market folks, there is no limit to the sacrifice that they will expect from labor and workers to increase their profits.

Look at the label in any recent garment you may have purchased. If it is from Bangladesh it is from a “Right-to-Work” state. Bangladesh has 3.5 million workers in 4,825 garment factories. These workers produce goods for export to the global market, principally Europe and North America. The Bangladeshi garment industry generates 80% of the country’s total export revenue. However, similar to the United States, the wealth generated by the workers has led to few improvements in the lives of those same workers, 85% of whom are women.

The majority of garment workers in Bangladesh earn little more than the minimum wage, set at approximately $38 a month. Remember those pesky American Labor unions and their greedy demands for decent salaries, the eight hour day, safe working conditions, week-ends off. These unreasonable demands have no place in Bangladesh, and for that matter, in Ron Johnson’s America.

A recent report by the ‘War on Want” NGO reveals; “As well as earning a pittance, Bangladeshi factory workers face appalling conditions. Many are forced to work 14-16 hours a day seven days a week, with some workers finishing at 3am only to start again the same morning at 7.30am. On top of this, workers face unsafe, cramped and hazardous conditions which often lead to work injuries and factory fires. Since 1990, more than 400 workers have died and several thousand more have been wounded in 50 major factory fires. Sexual harassment and discrimination is widespread and many women workers have reported that the right to maternity leave is not upheld by employers. Factory management also take steps to prevent the formation of trade unions, a right protected under the Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining ILO Conventions, which Bangladesh ratified in 1972.”

If the Club for Growth can purchase a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice election and Plutocrats like the Kochs and Sheldon Adelson can purchase the election and reelection of Scott Walker, the Wisconsin worker who is likely to now be working two or more part time minimum wage jobs to make ends meet will either not find the time to vote, or vote based upon a misleading slick TV or radio commercial. If the Republicans continue to maintain a core of voters who resent the few workers left with living wages, and fear the “other” urban dweller, then Scott Walker,s Wisconsin will proudly march past Mississippi on its way to Bangladesh.

This article first appeared at Uppity Wisconsin

One Response to Bangladesh, The Ultimate “Right-to-Work” State

  1. This whole “minimum wage” issue is a tough one. I’ve been there, I know. And the conditions both abroad and in our own country are appalling and should not exist.

    But our politicians have allowed our system to move from Left-Right to Up and Down… Class warfare rather than Democrat v. Republican … because they get a piece of the action. We have a corrupt government and until the people get their eyes off the “little fires” and battle the leaches at the top, the corruption will continue. That Transparency International has us listed as 24th in the world, rather than 1st, is telling.

    But doubling our wages, at this point, is NOT the answer. We’ll just send manufacturing jobs to some other country, because (please note) the CEOs are allowed to!!! Not only do they take a tax write-off for their $20 million salaries, but these high salaries and political bribes provide the incentive to screw the workers.

    Don’t get me wrong. I do NOT favor $300K salaries for union bosses either. As a former union steward I’ve grown to view unions as a necessary evil, mainly because we have CEO and politician crooks seeking to depress wages to increase profits, which they share.

    Importantly, NONE of these disparities would exist if we had an honest political system. And THIS is where our future fights must begin.