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From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.
Bangladeshi garment workers earn less than workers in clothing factories in any other country. Thousands of people demonstrated in Bangladesh in the weeks after a building collapse killed more than 1,000 garment workers. The protesters were demanding safe conditions and higher pay. The building that collapsed contained several clothing factories. Most of the victims were women. The tragedy has brought attention to working conditions for those who make clothing for famous international brands and retailers.
Labor union activists say organized labor groups are the most effective way to increase safety in the workplace. Earl Brown Jr. is a labor and employment lawyer in Washington. He directs the China and law programs at the Solidarity Center, a non-governmental organization. The Solidarity Center supports independent unionism. Mr. Brown says Bangladeshi officials have opposed efforts to organize unions and have refused to register unions not tied to political parties. He says the lack of independent workers’ rights groups means there is no pressure to enforce safety rules. Katerina Linos is an assistant professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley. She says examples of effective policy from around the world can influence politicians and voters. She says activists gain approval for reforms by showing that such measures work in other countries. Like Earl Brown Jr., she says the right to organize into unions is the most important condition for creating labor policy change. Recently, Bangladesh has stopped requiring that factory owners be given the names of workers seeking to start unions.