For Bangladesh's Struggling Garment Workers, Hunger Is A Bigger Worry Than Pandemic
Added 06-05-20 01:07:03pm EST - “Many garment factories have reopened, but the coronavirus still affects global demand and orders remain canceled. "I need to work," says one employee. "I'll die of hunger before I die of this virus."” - Npr.org
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Garment workers were deemed essential employees during Bangladesh's lockdown and some resumed work in Dhaka last month. SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett hide caption
Garment workers were deemed essential employees during Bangladesh's lockdown and some resumed work in Dhaka last month.
For more than a decade, Sampa Akter worked 12 hours a day at a garment factory in Bangladesh's capital, sewing denim jeans destined for shopping malls around the world. Earning $95 a month, she's been able to support her disabled brother, her sister and their parents.
That is, until late March — when her factory closed because of the coronavirus. Bangladesh has confirmed more than 57,000 cases and nearly 800 COVID-19 deaths in a population of 160 million.
Bangladesh's garment industry is the second-largest in the world, behind China's. It accounts for about 84% of Bangladesh's export revenue and is so critical to the economy that sewing machine operators like Akter were declared essential workers, exempt from a lockdown. But many factory owners decided to shut down production anyway, amid declining global orders and fears of infection.
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