In November 2012, a factory fire killed about 120 workers of the Tazreen Fashions in Dhaka. Soon after, in April 2013, the collapse of the Rana Plaza killed about 1,200 workers. These two tragic events resulted in national protests and raised international awareness of the working conditions in Bangladeshi garment factories. Nevertheless, more than four million workers — 70% of whom are women — are still suffering low remuneration, irregular payment, long overtime work, tight working schedules, restricted leave and benefits, and little ‘collective bargaining’ opportunities. In response, garment workers, despite being of different age groups and rural origins, and possessing diverse geographic mobility, are joining forces in ‘covert’ and ‘overt’ resistance. Therefore, garment industries provide an ideal setting to understand how new forms of ‘solidarity’ and ‘coercion’ appear around the linkages with global capitalism and neoliberalism. Studying these types of responses reveals a number of discourses which are partly in tension with one another and in which workers alternately emphasize different
ideas about work and labor conditions. For instance, discourses of the ‘patron-client’ relation between owner (malik) and workers can determine how the workers respond to coercive working conditions; notions of ‘sisterhood/brotherhood’ impact solidarity and possible collaboration among
workers. As the ethnographic findings of this chapter suggest, resistance to coercive work and solidarity on the factory floor remains conditional and highly dynamic, and labor relations in Bangladeshi garment factories are intertwined with a variety of social relations and cultural-moral discourses.