A garment union representative reported on Friday that Levi’s and H&M are among the leading global clothing brands whose production has been halted in Bangladesh due to days of violent protests by workers demanding a near-tripling of their wages. Providing many of the world’s most renowned fashion houses, Bangladesh’s 3,500 garment factories generate approximately 85% of the nation’s $55 billion in annual exports.
The majority of the sector’s four million employees, however, are women whose monthly wages begin at 8,300 taka ($75) and whose working conditions are appalling. Striking employees have stormed dozens of factories, while the proprietors of several hundred others have closed in an effort to prevent vandalism. Many of the country’s largest factories which produce apparel for nearly all major Western brands and retailers were among them, according to Kalpona Akter, president of the Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF).