The impact of strikes on the import of garments from Bangladesh

Between economic growth and social justice.

The recent unrest in Bangladesh's garment industry has far-reaching consequences for the global supply chain. With a wave of strikes sweeping the sector, crucial questions are being raised about the sustainability of current wage structures and the wider implications for importers worldwide. In this article, we delve deeper into the events unfolding in Bangladesh and the potential implications for international trade.

The origin of the unrest

In the first week of November, workers in Bangladesh rioted en masse. An initial 56.25% wage increase to 12,500 taka ($114) per month, due to take effect on December 1, was rejected by workers as inadequate. Workers demanded almost double the amount offered, reflecting their growing dissatisfaction with the cost of living.

Escalation of violence

Tensions were high when a demonstration turned violent, resulting in the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by police. This conflict has led to multiple deaths and hundreds of accusations against unidentified individuals, a common tactic that critics say serves to suppress dissent.

The response of the government and business to the strike

The government and factory owners have responded with calls for calm and warnings of possible job losses. With the sector accounting for almost 85% of Bangladesh's annual exports, the stability of the garment industry is vital for both the local economy and the international brands that depend on it.

Consequences for importers

These unrests can lead to significant disruptions for importers. The closure of factories and the threat of production losses are putting pressure on the reliability of the supply chain. Diversifying production, by sourcing in multiple countries and not being dependent on one country, is a solution. On the other hand, paying a fair price is an absolute minimum.

Outlook and strategies

In response to the situation, importers must develop strategies that ensure sustainability and ethical business practices. This could mean looking for factories with better working conditions or investing in longer, but more ethical supply chains. Furthermore, transparency about sourcing practices is more important than ever as consumers and regulators impose stricter requirements on the provenance of goods.


The strikes in Bangladesh are a wake-up call to the international community about the true cost of cheap clothing. They emphasize the need for importers to look beyond low prices and invest in sustainable and ethical production practices. As the situation in Bangladesh continues to unfold, the eyes of the world will be on the response of the international trading community.


  • AFP
  • NRC
  • Reuters

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