‘It takes a day and a night to visit my girl’
THE huge Babylon complex lies on a busy main road in Mirzapur. Inside, thousands of workers sweat away making school shirts for George at Asda. The MoS watched as the garments were sewn together on the production line – under signs with the Asda logo.
Executive director Mohammad Hasan boasted of their glowing medical facilities, assistance to improve workers’ literary skills and childcare facilities.
But outside the factory walls, life for the workers is a different story. Rena, 22, has been working as a helper at Babylon for a year – but receives a salary of just 5,550 taka a month (£49.69), or just under 26p an hour.
She is married and lives 25 minutes away in a one-roomed home with her husband.
To save money, her sevenyear-old daughter lives far away with relatives.
It takes ‘a day and a night’ if she wants to go and visit, costing £9 for the journey, so she can only afford to visit her child once every six months.
She said: ‘I would really like to see her more but I can’t see my salary getting higher because the pay for a helper is fixed. I also have her school fees to pay, which costs 500 taka a month.’
Mr Hasan said last night: ‘Minimum wages of 5,300 taka are only applicable for helpers or entry-level workers. The total of entry level workers is less than ten per cent.’
He added that employees receive attendance bonuses, overtime payments and other benefits and that entry workers can earn £54 a month (28p an hour) as a result. He said it was difficult to negotiate with the UK on price because: ‘If I don’t accept, someone else gets it.
‘No one wants a factory without business.’
An Asda spokesperson said: ‘We expect our suppliers to treat their workers with respect and dignity and we take allegations regarding mistreatment of workers seriously. We continuously reexamine our efforts to drive responsibility in our global supply chain, including in relation to worker conditions, voluntary labour, foreign workers and wages.’