Statement of GABRIELA National Alliance on the Bangladesh Tragedy
Dear Sisters and Friends,
We from GABRIELA National Alliance of Filipino Women, would like to express our sympathy to the families, friends and co-workers of the workers who were killed during the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh. We send our solidarity to the workers and the rest of the people of Bangladesh and all over the world and demand for justice for the victims and by making the capitalists who forced workers to work without regard for safety, accountable for this tragedy. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this utter disregard for safety and welfare of peoples’ lives in the name of profit.
This tragedy, where most of the victims were young women, reflects the tragedy of women workers all over the world. The workers are paid measly salary that cannot even cover basic human necessities while CEOs and multi-national companies, and their government minions are raking in billions of dollars in profit. Add to this is the denial of workers’ rights for union organizing, collective bargaining, and safe working conditions. Laws have been passed not just to undermine these rights but to totally wipe them out of society, like they never existed at all.
Barely five months ago, a similar tragedy happened also in Dhaka when Tazreen factory, which supplied garments to giant retailers such as WalMart, was razed by fire, claimed the lives of 112 workers. We also remember the fire in Butuan City, Philippines that killed 17 women workers who were locked inside the factory’s dormitory with no fire exit. And just a few weeks ago, at least 60 immigrant farm workers from Asia and Africa demanding wages denied to them for a year have been fired upon in Greece. We are reminded of the conditions and struggle of tea pickers in Sri Lanka, shoes and garment factory workers in Indonesia and China and the migrant workers in Europe and US.
Indeed, profit oriented capitalist system does not consider workers as human beings but as money-making machines that should be run non-stop for maximum profit at a minimum cost.
We are reminded of the 1911 tragedy in New York when 140 women workers were killed in the Triangle Fire.It drew attention to the deplorable working conditions of workers and labor laws in the United States. It became a rallying point for women to demand better working conditions and the recognition of women’s economic and political participation.
Like in 1911, let this tragedy in Bangladesh remind workers that only the unity of the working class and the rest of the exploited people of the world can change such condition. The capitalists have never and will never learn anything from these tragedies. On the contrary they will only continue to wash their hands off these tragedies so that they can further exploit workers. We have to struggle for change in the system and work towards a society where workers are not exploited and where human lives will not be sacrificed in the name of profit.
Justice for the workers in Bangladesh! Justice for the workers of the world! Women unite against capitalist exploitation!