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For years, the minimum wage in Bangladesh has stood at just 11.5 cents an hour, leaving the nation’s 3.5 million garment workers – 80 percent of whom are women – at the mercy of their employers.
Montu Ghosh supported garment workers in their legal demand for a 35-cent-an-hour minimum wage that would allow them to climb out of misery and into poverty.
A prominent and highly regarded progressive trade union leader in Dhaka’s garment factory district, Ghosh, 62, and two dozen others were arrested this summer after organizing demonstrations in support of the workers.
The powerful Bangladesh Garment and Manufacturers and Exporters Association filed trumped up charges against all of them for allegedly inciting worker violence.
After receiving support from unions around the world, including UAW members, three other labor leaders were freed after 28 days. But Ghosh remained in prison until his release on Oct. 11 – after 73 days.
Multinational apparel companies have blocked the garment workers’ 35-cent-an-hour minimum wage demand, saying they won’t pay them more than 21 cents an hour.
The National Labor Committee (NLC) spotlights these and other workers’ struggles and what you can do to help them. For more information, visit nlcnet.org.
You’ve heard of guilt by association? How about feeling good about your lot in life by association thanks to unions?
That’s what a new study says, which ties the decline in union membership in the United States to the increase in worker dissatisfaction on the job.
Notre Dame political science professor Benjamin Radcliff co-authored a new study about unions in 14 different countries and reached this conclusion: Unions are good for your overall sense of happiness, whether you’re a union member or not.
Radcliff found that countries with high levels of union membership have generally happier workforces. Why? Because union members generally have higher pay, better benefits and other quality of life gains in the workplace thanks to being part of an organized workforce.
But that rubs off on their nonunion counterparts too, he contends, because those hard-won gains put pressure on employers to extend them to all workers, not just unionized workers.