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Excess Work Hours Among Garment Workers in Bangladesh, Part One

In mid-April the Bangladeshi government quietly increased the legal workweek for garment workers in Bangladesh to 72 hours per week, up from a previous legal maximum of 60 hours per week. The new limit allows for eight hours of regular work for six days a week, plus a total of up to four hours of overtime work per day. For many garment workers in Bangladesh, a 72-hour workweek is simply the reality they have become used to, in part because the wages they earn during a regular 48-hour workweek are not enough to subsist on.

The Bangladeshi government’s response to this situation is an acknowledgement of the fact that an ever-increasing share of workers in the RMG sector in Bangladesh are working excess hours. This confirms what workers have been telling us during their weekly interviews, when they report how many hours they worked in the previous week—again showing the value of the Diaries as a way to understand what is going on in the RMG sector in Bangladesh. 

This week’s blog documents the rise in the share of workers working excess hours since August 2020 and serves as part one in a series which will focus on this trend. Coming on the heels of our Living Wage, Living Planet series (Part One and Part Two), we believe these work hours data further demonstrate that the current way the global apparel supply chain operates is unsustainable.

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