Weaving Shared Reality: A Sustainable Living Model for RMG Workers.

Enhance the quality of life of garment workers by collaboration among the government, garments owners, and landowners.
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Designer(s) : Rahat Ibna Hasan

University : Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET)

Tutor(s) : Dr Nasreen Hossain, Patrick D’ Rozario and Dr Apurba k Poddar

About 77% of merchandise exports come from RMG (ready-made garments) industry in a developing country like Bangladesh. We are the second-largest Apparel producer in the world, right after China. People from different parts of the country come to this industry to make a livelihood. But it’s difficult for them to lead a decent life when they get a wage of 68 USD per month.

Their living costs and monthly expenses are two times costlier than the other residential areas like Dhanmondi or Gulshan in Dhaka. To generate extra income and maintain monthly expenses they with their family members have to work a second jobs such as sewing bedsheets, tailoring, making handicrafts, vegetable gardening, or working as a day labourer to make their lives easier. As a result, they have to work on their spare time for that job after spending 10-12 hours in garments. We don’t think about them nevertheless. Even while designing “Low-cost housing” for their community we only consider the affordability aspect. Neither do we consider their secondary income source nor incorporate spaces for these jobs with the living modules. We only see them as cheap labourers and limit their economic growth.

Yet, through Architectural dimensions like Housing, we don’t address these issues regarding the garment workers’ cheap labour.

The “Economic growth” is limited by different types of policies of other corporations regarding RMG. There is a possibility of resolving this barrier with the help of the government and stakeholders of this industry.

This project aims to enhance the quality of life of garment workers by collaboration among the government, garments owners, and landowners. It addresses three objectives.

  1. The monthly wage of 68 USD they get mostly goes into house rent. So, a secondary job is a must for them. This project addresses the issue by providing them with a home allowance which includes the rent of the living units and within these units, they are getting shared workspaces to generate that extra income. By sharing these workspaces among themselves during different times of the day they can produce handicrafts or other commodities and sell those to local shops which elevate their financial growth.
  2. In the current scenario, land owners themselves build living units and rent those to the workers. They try to make a profit out of their investment through the rent. In this project, the land owners would only lease the lands to Garments owners. They wouldn’t have to bear other costs. Thus, they would make double the profit by leasing without any other investment.
  3. The home allowance provided by the Garments owners would include decent accommodation and shared work/multipurpose spaces for the workers. It would reduce their pressure of increasing the yearly pay scale and establish a good relationship between them and the workers. The owners would ensure a healthy physical and mental state for the workers through this, boosting their production rate.  Through this plan of home allowance, the owners can easily repay the house loans within ten years and make double the profit as before.

We cannot deny the contribution of these neglected garment workers to our GDP growth. It’s high time we thought about a better future for the workers for the betterment and sustainability of the garments industry.