Reprinted from http://www.le-militant.org
The factory fires have attracted a little attention : mass strikes in Bangladesh. The media had talked much of this country, from the compassionate angle and not without blaming the "Western consumer," when "accidents", inevitable given the working conditions, had caused the death of hundreds and hundreds of workers in early May. A little more too, last March, when Islamist parties had called for a "general strike". The real general strike, mass strike of workers and especially the women workers , is happening now : the Islamists’ strike did not, specifically did not close the textile factories that produce 80% of the country’s exports and a important value-added feeding the local and international capital, it only closed by their bosses and Islamist managers, boutiques, shops and schools. When the workers took to the street, there was no more talk of Sharia.
The current movement in Bangladesh comes from afar , it rises and falls in waves since at least 2010 , and strikes were more massive in June , but the decisive fact in recent days is the determination of the women workers to directly confront the employing class and the so-called forces of order of its state apparatus forces.
In August 2010 the minimum monthly wage established in 2006 had been raised following the strikes it 3000 taka or ... 28 euros , one third of the average minimum wage of the Chinese provinces with which Bangladesh has logically become the biggest competitor in the textile industry . After the carnage of Rana Plaza , the first wave of mass demonstrations , in which the threat of fire to the unsanitary localities to pit an end to them and impose non-murderous working conditions , had appeared on a mass scale , was extracted on May 13 the legal authority to establish union branches in business ... without giving the names of all the members to the bosses as required by law before that !
The existing union federations are part of large shells used to working in conjunction with the Indian confederations ,the ITUC, NGOs and the ILO, seeking some progress though diplomacy and international lobbying more than by organizing workers . But the formation of union branches from the bottom is rising, sometimes tempestuously, and highlighting women through women’s union leagues, and the multiplication of plant sections and business sections in recent months, demanding the monthly rate of 10,000 taka (roughly 100 euros) immediately ( the official claim of Federations is a gradual transition to the equivalent of 74 euros ), weekly leave, non dismissal of pregnant women and total union freedom .
Negotiations on Security, sponsored by the CSI , NGOs and major brands such as Marks and Spencer , H & M, C & A, Benetton ... (but boycotted by Wallmart ) and wage negotiations between employers and trade unions had opened. The first resulted in an agreement hailed by the world's leading philanthropists and without effect on-site, but on wages employers announced they would grant an increase to 33 euros a month , the trade union confederation subjected to growing pressure from below this time claiming 100 euros. The employer’s "Gift" was seen as what it is, an insult , especially since the 28 euros are far from being met in practice.
The great movement which seems to have peaked on 21 September in Dhaka has seen demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of workers , facing the police, and with determination, storming the headquarters of the employers' confederation , several police offices and above that , burning or stoning some 70 factories , forcing their closure.The question was to extend the strike to institutions where the employers’ thugs had managed to lock the workers in work by blocking the exits ( plants were then stoned and doors or even walls, forced, but the workers obviously did not set fire to the premises where it was a question of liberating their comrades ) or to block the exit of goods and orders to penalize the employers, or to destroy dangerous buildings on the verge of collapse again making hundreds of victims. Far from being the result of a desperate rage of wild proletarians skin and bones, factory fires conducted by demonstrations of strikers are a direct action of a young proletariat standing up for freedom, of young women by the hundreds of thousands , defying the old world and pushing the battle cry of emancipation.
What they need from us, is not compassion for the poor or so-called enlightened philanthropy hand in hand with major textile brands and the retail chains that exploit them , and the Western proletariat with them : the added value created by the labor of Bangladeshi women becomes hard cash from the sale of goods , pants, shorts and other scarves, which they have produced, on world markets . Their exploiters are not the buyers of these goods that spend the value of their wages , created by their own work. They are exclusively the bosses of the entire world, who divide the profit between big brands , retailers, bankers and local capitalists .
The brave direct action of workers in Bangladesh seeks to strike at the local capital in its heart. The big sharks of the retail world themselves do the sourcing : their orders disperse and redeploying constantly throughout Asia, Mahalla and al Kobra in Egypt where the class brothers of the workers in Dhaka are struggling , Manila , and the world. They have the means to escape the effects of mass strikes in Bangladesh. True solidarity demands first of all putting ourselves on the same level of struggle as the workers in Dhaka , to explain everywhere the meaning of the factory burnings and direct action reinvented and amplified by the Bangladeshi proletariat.
Their fight poses all political issues and there the proletariat of Europe and elsewhere join them. They have no political representation. Silencing by their mere presence the supporters of Sharia , they also face the Awami League government , the historical national party in the country, which seeks to remake a base for itself by organizing major trials against military and Islamist criminals who repressed the liberation war against Pakistan in 1971. By their organization from below, by their direct action , they consign to the dustbin of history all the compassionate and bigotted crap about microcredit and fair trade to poor small capitalists, recently buried in a series of sensational scandals of corruption involving their good apostle once so prized by the anti-globalizationist, Mohammed Yunus . They terrorize the lobbyists that have become international and national union leaders. They terrorize everyone except the people in the street who applauded . These oblige the revolutionary thinking political currents ,to reflect, starting from their experience and not to lecture them , if they want to be helpful . In Dhaka , there stands naked , in direct opposition to everything, the proletariat of this century.