Churches call on shoppers to support Bangladeshi garment workers

By agency reporter
September 6, 2013

A former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has helped launch a major national campaign calling for better rights for garment workers in Bangladesh.

This follows the collapse of the nine-storey Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh where over 1,127 people were killed in April this year.

The Very Rev John Christie, a passionate advocate for better rights and safer working conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers, is a key figure in the campaign run by the Church of Scotland in partnership with several other Churches in the UK.

Speaking ahead of the launch in London yesterday, he said: “There are two key drivers for Bangladesh's economy; the first are migrant workers who send money back home. The second is the garment industry.

“Most of us have decisions to make about where we buy our clothes. One thing is absolutely clear and that is deciding to boycott goods from Bangladesh is not an option. The industry is a critical source of income for ordinary people. Our energies should be directed at making sure, by lobbying the companies from which we buy our clothing, that the conditions for those who make our garments, are as good as they can be.”

“Such fires, the report stated, are so common they scarcely merit a mention. More than anything else it was that statement which marked the genesis of my interest in the issues raised by such tragedies.

“There have been fatal fires since and, of course, the terrible tragedy at Savar when a collapsed factory killed more than 1000 people and caused many thousands of injuries

On Thursday 5 September 2013, at the launch of the campaign before the run up to Christmas and the winter sales, he spoke out about the injustices workers face.

Mr Christie explained the aim of the campaign is to mobilise the buying and spending power of church members and others in the United Kingdom, America and Canada. It is hoped this will put pressure on retailers and politicians to improve wages, safety and working conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers.

Mr Christie was addressing fellow campaigners at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London.

The churches’ alliance working alongside the Church of Bangladesh consists of the Church of Scotland (World Mission Council), the Anglican Alliance, the Diocese of Llandaff (the Church in Wales), the Church Mission Society, the Methodist Church in Britain, and the United Society ('Us', formerly USPG).


Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.