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Proletarian issue 54 (June 2013)
Bangladeshi workers under attack
Whether at home or abroad, superexploitation will be the lot of Bangladeshi workers until there is real, revolutionary change.
In Greece, where unemployment has hit 27 percent, the fascist Golden Dawn party is helping to divert popular anger against capitalism into divisive xenophobic hatred of ‘foreigners stealing our jobs’.

When about 200 migrant strawberry pickers, mostly from Bangladesh, went to their bosses to demand unpaid wages going back six months or more, at least 28 of them were shot and injured by gun-wielding thugs. Three of the foremen at the strawberry plantation in Nea Manolada where they worked were blamed for the murderous assault.

This racist violence is just the most recent in a string of similar attacks against Asian and African workers in Greece.

And as if to clarify what might drive Bangladeshis to leave their homes and expose themselves to such racist poison in the first place, the true face of imperialist superexploitation has also been on shameful display in Bangladesh itself with the death of over 1,000 textile workers, mostly women, when the Rana Plaza complex in which they worked collapsed.

Some 3,000 people were estimated to be working there at the time of collapse, despite the fact that only days earlier cracks had been detected and reported. Workers in the building were told to continue coming in to work on pain of dismissal.

Back in November similar disregard by factory owners for the lives of their workers had been shown in the Tazreen factory fire. On that occasion workers were told it was a false alarm and ordered back to work. When they tried to escape, they were blocked by a locked fire door. That fire claimed 112 lives.

The grim conclusion is that whether Bangladeshi workers stay at home or travel abroad, the end result is the same: superexploitation at best, and at worst an early grave.

Who is to blame for the massacre of garment workers in Rana Plaza? Sohel Rana, the owner of the Rana Plaza complex, stands accused of getting the multi-storey complex thrown up on the cheap in breach of building regulations, and the local owners of the factory on the eighth floor have been arrested.

It is unlikely, however, that justice will penetrate much further up the food chain – up to the corrupt officials who turned a blind eye to the activities of the “politically connected” Mr Rana, or up to the systemic corruption of a ruling elite which grows rich in return for services rendered to the big international garment corporations.

Least of all can we expect to see the real culprit, imperialism itself, hauled into the dock for its crimes.

The small fry of the exploiting class in Bangladesh may face some legal consequences, as may the thugs in Greece who shot the strawberry-pickers. But whatever happens to Mr Rana and his like, we can be sure that bourgeois law will never hold the monopoly capitalists running Primark and Matalan to account for the lives of those who died stitching their garments.

Capitalism will only be brought to book by revolutionary justice imposed by the masses themselves.
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