As part of a solutions story for the BBC World Service, I visited a factory where an incredible scheme has been rolled out to give workers the benefits of health insurance as an add-on to their monthly grocery shopping. Over the course of two days we talked to workers in the ready-made garment export industry and saw for ourselves that the conditions were really good. In 2013 a garment factory collapse killed more than 1,000 people and since then, there are laws to make their workplaces safer, brighter, cleaner, and better ventilated. There is also a doctor and nurse on the premises to attend to emergencies or acute illnesses. A lot of the processes are automated and some are downright hypnotic. See my video of a button machine here.
But the export garment business is only part of the story. For domestic cloth production, there are small and medium “factories” everywhere, in commercial buildings, apartments, sheds, even just occupying a room on small shopping centres where shirts are sold a floor below.
Most garment factory workers are women, although this shop had only men in it sitting shirtless in a totally sealed off room with ceiling fans rattling but all windows shut.
My piece about insuring the blue collar workers will be on the #peoplefixingtheworld Podcast in the fall and it’s a really great story about how finding an amazing solution on paper can hit roadblocks because people are so unpredictable. One of the reasons for low adoption of the insurance scheme is patriarchy! Although 68% of the workers are cheerful women who earn a wage and contribute to their households, many are not allowed to spend it. Their husbands make the decisions for them. One man told me, “My wife cannot be expected to go to the shops alone!” Another woman, so visibly, alarmingly anemic, told me, “I need this insurance cover, but my husband won’t agree. I’ve tried everything but I can’t convince him.”
There are other, logistical and cost reasons, too, of course, but those can be addressed. This one is … tough!
#rmg #culture #soJo #solutionsjournalism #Machine #buttons #shirts #learnsomethingnew #smashthepatriarchy #amazing