Bishop Paul S Sarker, moderator of the Church of Bangladesh, was the keynote speaker, also through Skype at the launch of the campaign by the Church of Bangladesh group that brough together an ecumenical group to release a campaign pack prepared by the Anglican Alliance.
The campaign aims to get church members, especially in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada, who buy clothes imported from Bangladesh to write to retailers and politicians pressing for better wages and working conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers.
Spearheading the campaign, Bishop Paul said: “We need to work together to ensure just wages and conditions for the garment workers in Bangladesh.”
In the highlight of the launch, Monika Hambrom (pictured right), a garment worker who was buried in the collapse of the factory, spoke of her experience at Rana Plaza, the working conditions she faced, and her trauma following the collapse of the factory.
She said, “We saw that the building was cracked the day before the collapse. We were told to come in to work the next day and we would receive our wages for the month. Then the factory would be closed as it was unsafe to work in. We did not expect it to collapse.
“The next morning, at 8:45am, the electricity shut down. As the generators came on, the building shook and fell down. I cannot remember what happened, it was so dark.
“I struggled out from under the rubble and, thank God, some people saw me and dragged me out.”
Monika has made a slow recovery, but still has sleepless nights and is troubled by the events of April 24th. As the main income earner in her household she provided for her whole family. Now they are left without a livelihood on which to survive.
Keen to return to work, Monika is thankful for the campaign and hopes that one day she can be a garment worker with a good living wage and work in safe conditions, never to fall victim to the same situation again.
The launch at the Methodist Central Hall in London invited church organisations and local press to hear more about the campaign and see the campaign’s resource pack, which was produced by the Anglican Alliance.
The pack encourages people in the UK, US, Canada and Australia to put pressure on their retailers and calls for justice for the people who supply their clothes. A letter is also available to download, which can be sent to retailers, MPs or elected representatives, to ask them to take action to ensure better working conditions for this oppressed group of people.
For more information about the campaign, and to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
In the picture: Anglican Alliance director Sally Keeble connects the London event up with Bishop Paul Sarker in Bangladesh.
Note: The global coalition of churches in the Church of Bangladesh Group includes:
Anglican Alliance, Church of Bangladesh, Church Mission Society, Church of Scotland, Council for World Mission, Diocese of Llandaff (Church in Wales), Methodist Church in Britain, Oxford Mission, Us (United Society)