Monday, 21 December 2009

JANUARY'S SCREENING - Bostrobalikara - Garment Girls of Bangladesh

SUNDAY JANUARY 31st at 5pm
At 56a Infoshop

Bostrobalikara - Garment Girls of Bangladesh (60m) + other short clips
A documentary by Tanvir Mokammel

Plus introductory talk about the struggles in Bangladesh.

A common sight in the streets of Dhaka is the parade of young women and girls going to and from work in garment factories. These girls, who number about 2 million, work in the most successful manufacturing industry that Bangladesh has. Their labour brings in the biggest proportion of trade income. On their toil rests the livelihoods of millions of others. Their importance to the Bangladesh economy is incalculable.

This phenomenal success echoes Bengal of hundreds of years ago when its Muslin industry was ascendant. Nevertheless the garment industry is faced with uncertainties and difficulties. Most pressing are issues concerning wages and safe working conditions, future investment and the international trade environment. Symptomatic of these problems have been the long succession of factory catastrophes, and the widespread worker disturbances of May and June 2006. How will the various stakeholders, including the state, the foreign buyers and the successful entrepreneurs, respond to the challenges ahead? Will the industry lose its "sweatshop" image?

"What made you do a film on the garment workers?

I have been watching these garment girls for the last two decades. Like any conscientious person in contemporary Bangladesh, I have deep sympathy for this hardworking, silent army of working girls who walk up to their factories at dawn and return, often very late at time. They are very conspicuous as a social group on the streets of Dhaka, Narayanganj and Chittagong. We know they are very low paid, and they receive very little respect from the mainstream community. I once wrote a poem about these BOSTROBALIKARA. I wanted to make this film with the aim to sensitize concerned people about their plight, which, in turn, may help achieve better wages and more respect for these hapless girls."
From 'Interview with Tanvir Mokammel'

See here

Strike, Riot and Fire Among the Garment Workers - A Working Class Revolt in Bangladesh

Mass working class revolt has been raging in Bangladesh for several months: garment workers fighting for improved wages and conditions... Farmers fighting destruction of their livelihoods by open cast mining... Mass insurrection against power cuts...
This pamphlet attempts to cut through the dominant media chatter of ‘clash of civilizations/cultures’ and ‘religious resurgence/fundamentalism’ and to show instead the real substance of social conflict, where the exploited begin to actively control their struggles rather than just being pawns manipulated by various political or religious factions

A pamphlet published by 56a Infoshop in 2006

You can download this paginated background booklet here:

A 15 minute video; a workforce, 85% female, paid some of the lowest wages in the world; expressing some of the highest levels of class struggle in the world at present. Trade unions have very little influence or restraint on these struggles - they are self-organised by workers on the job. When strikes turn riotous, they often spread into the wider working class community.

The short compilation of clips with commentary is available here:

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