Bangladesh’s population is quite youthful. Youth (those between the ages of 15 and 29) now make up one-fourth of the population. 4 crore, or 74 lakh individuals. Such data is available in the final report of the Bangladesh Statistics Bureau.
The country’s working population is significantly larger than its youth population. Sixty-two percent of the population is under the age of fifty-nine. In terms of quantity, 10 crore, 50 lakh. However, the nation’s fight for economic rights could not be linked to the young laborers. They have no means or chance to engage in any dialogue regarding the nation’s economic catastrophe, exploitation, or oppression. Young individuals without jobs are the majority and are flooding Dhaka in quest of employment. The most promising young people in the nation have not been able to find work despite ten years of purported development, massive project after massive project, and GDP fanfares.
In addition to the 2.2 lakh graduates in the nation, many graduates from various districts’ and upazila’s schools and institutions have been unemployed for an extended period of time. Many school dropouts have made their way into the unofficial sector of the economy. In addition to the 2.2 lakh graduates in the nation, many graduates from various districts’ and upazila’s schools and institutions have been unemployed for an extended period of time. Many school dropouts have made their way into the unofficial sector of the economy.
Moreover, the rural economy is weakening. The village’s youth have traveled to Dhaka and are dispersed. There are several occupations, such as street vendors, housemaids, security guards, Gaussian assistants, and bus conductors. Additionally, hundreds of youth have entered the garments sector.
In actuality, these young laborers were inextricably linked to the nation’s economic rights struggle. They have no way or chance to engage in the conversation about the nation’s economic catastrophe. However, they are entitled to a portion of the national budget, employment, the ability to form a union at work, inexpensive housing, and health care. What about fundamental rights, economics, and politics? These are huge issues for them—tiredness and the struggle to survive on rice, dal, and eggs.
For the previous fifteen years, these young people have been unable to vote, despite being unable to participate in the regular political process. There is nowhere for a young man employed in a factory to discuss his financial difficulties. Its exploitative structure imprisons its economic life, making it unlikely that it will escape its economic predicament unless it participates in lengthy political or organizational processes.
Garments is Bangladesh’s most successful industry. This industry comprises millions of young men and women between the ages of 18 and 30. Young employees had a lot of opportunity to grow as organizational leaders in this field. Opportunities abound for worker organizing, the ‘practice’ of rights in the workplace, and, moreover, to take center stage in national politics.
In addition to advocating for wage increases or arrears, these young workers may have led campaigns for rationing, public transportation, affordable gas and electricity, food price reductions, rationing, and other livelihood issues.
However, since the start of the garment industry, workers’ fundamental rights have been gradually reduced, making it difficult for powerful labor unions or other associations to speak out. The government and the owners have worked together to stifle that potential. Ultimately, the young garment worker was prevented from creating a platform for the smallest complaint, much less a rights movement.
Millions of young people work in a field that is thriving economically, so why can’t these young people become an organized force? Given its significant contribution to the national economy, is it not possible to establish a robust forum for discussing the country’s economic or social predicament?
One of the most influential influences in the growth of democracy is considered to be the “Labour Union,” and “OrganizedLabour” was once the driving force behind the spread of democracy throughout Europe. Nonetheless, Bangladesh’s billions of young industrial workers were unable to have a significant impact on either national politics or general democracy.
The miserable condition of national politics, the pervasive culture of repression, and Bangladesh’s industry are all the same. In general, the nation lacks a democratic atmosphere. Initially, when someone else tries to organize, he is suppressed. The state occasionally owns the factory, occasionally represses him, and occasionally uses the police to harass him. Young people who are employed are also the most vulnerable and economically weakest group.
But is there another nation where there are thus many young “manual” laborers? These young people’s involvement may have resulted in a general economic revolution in a nation like Bangladesh, which employs billions of people in physical work. Any organizing effort by these young people might dispel the fear of Bangladesh’s economy’s egregiously unequal structure, not just with regard to pay but also with regard to essential rights like food costs, gas and power bills, housing rent, and medical charges.
However, the reverse occurred. These young people have always been utilized as tools of exploitation rather than as power. When we last saw them, four teenage laborers had to perish at the hands of police during a wage protest.There are explicit provisions for trade unions in Bangladeshi labor legislation. However, management is doing everything within its power to prevent workers from organizing. 30% of the workers in that factory must be members of the union in order for it to be formed.
Furthermore, the Labor Office must receive the names of employees who want to form an organization. But the labor office informs the owner of the names of the employees as soon as the list is available. Naturally, the plant management then began to remove people from the list. Furthermore, positions in other workplaces are unavailable to those who have been laid off for the “crime” of unionizing.
That is, the administration’s hostility toward this basic right of workers to organize is structural. Now, if this structure cannot be shaken, there will be voting and elections will be held in this country, but how will the condition of the young people who do manual labor and operate machines change? Apart from the administrative hurdles, the economic and social poverty of the youth workers is the biggest factor behind their not being able to become ‘vocal’. The factory takes up the entire daily life of a girl working in garments. A worker has to spend at least 10 hours in the factory for a little extra income. A working girl who enters the factory at 7 in the morning has no way of leaving before 7 in the evening.
A twenty-five-year-old boy or girl plays with the machine all day. At ten or eleven o’clock, the working girl comes home from the market to prepare dinner. She had to wake up at six the following day. When will laborers organize, form unions, stage protests and marches, engage in evening political activity, and hand out flyers?
Second, the laborer lacks the physical ability, mental fortitude, or self-assurance to organize since his diet is so restricted that nothing non-vegetarian remains on his plate. He was dissatisfied with his lodging, house rent, water, and energy expenses. An 8-by-6-foot house in Ashulia, Savar, or Gazipur is rented for at least 4,000 taka. The laborers must rent the most cheapest houses and eat the fewest meals in order to survive under Bangladesh’s unhygienic conditions. How can a twenty-five-year-old man or woman, whose body is immobile, whose home is always beset by gas and electricity outages, and who lacks adequate sleep, yet possess the “spirit” of union?
The clothing industry remains stagnant even in that case. The majority of young female workers are leading the charge in this trend. However, these movements have terrible effects. During one phase of the unplanned movement, the owners or the police brought lawsuits against the employees. The labor court may occasionally receive a case alleging manufacturing goods theft. Despite the charge of damaging “public property,” a criminal prosecution was brought while the demonstrators were once again in the streets for a nonviolent demonstration.
Once more, the powerful governing party continues to threaten the workers’ regions. Even the most gifted young people avoid social events out of concern about being beaten or shunned. The most promising group of young people in the garment industry would rather stay silent because they face unemployment, legal action, and persistent pressure from managers to join a union. It is an intimidating atmosphere in which to live.
In other words, where is democracy? The trade union is where? The right is where? An endeavor is being made to eliminate any and all opportunities for the young people in this industry to organize or enter the political sphere.
The prevalent ‘image’ of youth in this country, whether it be for Digital Bangladesh or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is that they are not all alike in terms of appearance, skin tone, or fashion sense. The majority of young people in this nation ride easy-bikes or “nasimon karimons”, work as housewives, run machinery, labor in factories, or try to sell items on the sidewalks. Regrettably, police brutality persists in all of these fields.
Caning and fines for riding an easy-bikeon the street, as well as extortion by police or linemen for sitting on the pavement, are common occurrences for the majority of young people in the city. There are several examples of youth collective movements, even in the apparel industry. The youth of the informal economy are so vulnerable and alone that, far from organizing, they do not even have a platform to talk about their workplace crises. Those who live in the same labor neighborhood and work in the same workplace, even though they are not officially unionized, have the opportunity to express their opinions or frustrations.
These young people, dispersed throughout the informal economy, have no means of engaging in “dialogue” with the government to request protection under the nation’s democratic structure for their precarious livelihoods.
These young people are dispersed throughout the informal economy and have no means of having “dialogue” with the authorities to request the protection of their unprotected livelihood.
In the last ten years, Bangladesh’s once-promising institutions have crumbled, the accountability framework has been undermined, and all opportunities for young people to get involved in politics have been closed off—the country’s whole economic system is repressive.
But even if we manage to change the administration through this voting process, nobody appears to want to talk about how precisely the situation of working-age youth will improve. There is now no functioning formal negotiating mechanism with the government or state machinery. The conditions necessary to establish any political process at all to achieve their most fundamental rights have been destroyed. The topic of how exactly this nation’s young laborers might escape their financial hardships does not seem to be getting much attention at the moment.
In fact, during such repression, it is hard to get working-class youngsters involved in organizing or constructive politics. They must assist in their mobilization, put democratic practice institutions in place, make significant investments in government job creation, and cultivate a strong culture of accountability against all forms of governmental repression if they hope to involve this generation of working-class youth in political and economic decision-making in future politics.
It is important to keep in mind that by excluding this younger working class, significant reforms to Bangladeshi politics cannot be achieved. During one phase of the unplanned movement, the workers were the target of lawsuits brought by the owners or the police.