Bangladeshi Labor Activist Kalpona Akter Fights for Safety at Garment Factories

The World

Women wait for news of their relative, a garment worker, who is still missing after the collapse of Rana Plaza building, in front of missing people posters in Savar, 30 km (19 miles) outside Dhaka April 30, 2013. At least 390 people have been confirmed dead in what is just the latest incident to raise serious questions about worker safety and low wages in the poor South Asian country that relies on garments for 80 percent of its exports.

REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

We asked Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity what she thought of the British clothing chain Primark’s offer to compensate the families of victims from the garment factory complex collapse in Dhaka last week.

“Just don’t wash your hands by giving this money,” she said addressing Primark executives, “be also responsible and sign the fire and safety agreement if you really wanted to end this death trap.”

Kalpona Akter is a labor activist who works to improve safety in garment industry buildings in Bangladesh.

She herself was a garment worker as a child.

Akter notes that since 2005, more than 900 workers have died in industrial accidents in Bangladesh.

Now Akter and other activists are demanding that all interested parties do more to ensure the safety of those who work in the Bangladeshi apparel industry.

Below Kalpona Akter, talks about educating Bangladeshi sweatshop workers who make clothes for Walmart about their human rights.