Unveiling the untold story of garment industry leaders

Published Date: 27-Nov-2023 | 05:30 PM
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Garment workers and their protest for rights have been revolving in the air recently for few weeks, it’s an everyday story we hear, read or listen.

However, there’s some untold things which doesn’t come into spotlight due to many reasons, now we unveil those stories which includes three renowned figures of the garment industry, Kalpona Akhter (Jimu), President of Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation. Nazma Akter, the executive director of Awaz Foundation and Babul Akhter, a general secretary of Kalpona’s organization.

Kalpona Akhtar, widely known as Jimu, has emerged as a prominent figure in the Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation as the President, while simultaneously serving as the Executive Director of the NGO BCWS. However, her journey to leadership is not without its share of intrigue and speculation. Jimu's story began in the heart of the garment industry, where she started working at the tender age of 12 as a child labourer in Bangladesh. Her early struggles paved the way for a trajectory that would eventually lead her to the forefront of workers' rights advocacy.

Amidst her advocacy efforts, questions have arisen concerning her international travels from 2022 to 2023, where she reportedly spent a substantial amount totaling 11,38,983/- BDT (Eleven Lakh Thirty-Eight Thousand and Nine Hundred Eighty-Three). Such expenditures have raised eyebrows and sparked speculations within the community, given her background as a garment worker. The spotlight turns to Jimu's journey, from the factory floors to global stages, as the public seeks answers to the apparent conflict between her grassroots beginnings and the financial capacity for extensive foreign travel.

The following diagram illustrates the timeline and financial breakdown of Kalpona Akter's overseas travels in the past twelve months. The chart provides insights into when and how much money was expended during her journeys.

2022-2023, foreign travel report of Kalpona Akhtar:

SL. No

Departure

Arrival

Airlines

Economy Class

Destination

01.

11-11-2023

16-11-2023

Emirates

1,17,883/-

Amsterdam

02.

07-10-2023

12-10-2023

Sri Lanka Airlines 

72,700/-

Colombo

03.

20-09-2023

02.10.2023

Qatar Airlines

79,900/-

Doha

04.

16.06.2023

24.06.2023

Emirates

73,800/-

Dubai

05.

10.04.2023

20.04.2023

Vistara Airlines

31,700/-

Delhi

06.

26.03.2023

01.04.2023

Singapore Airlines

1,26,000/-

Tokyo

07.

28-01-2023

02-02-2023

Qatar Airlines

79,000/-

Doha

08.

13-11-2022

13-12-2022

Qatar Airlines

1,39,000/-

Montreal

09.

28-09-2022

02-10-2022

Biman

31,000/-

India

10.

07-08-2022

23-08-2022

Qatar

1,39,000/-

Montreal

11.

15-06-2022

26-06-2022

Emirates

1,26,000/-

New York

12.

28-05-2022

05-06-2022

 

1,23,000/-

The Hague

 

 

 

Total

11,38,983/- BDT

 

 

Similarly, concerns have been raised about the financial affluence of Nazma Akter too, who once toiled as a Helper at Comtrade Garments Ltd. (Beximco Group) from 1993 to 1994. Nazma later transitioned to the NGO sector by joining an NGO named Afri with a monthly salary of 500 taka. At present, she is serving as the Executive Director of Awaz Foundation, affiliated with the Combined Garments Workers Federation, Nazma Akter also owns a house in Banani, a flat, and a packaging factory in Dhaka’s Diya Bari area. A parallel narrative unfolds with Babul Akhter, who is the General Secretary of Kalpona's organization, he possesses a flat in the capital’s Banasree area. These instances of apparent prosperity swift a critical inquiry into the origins of such wealth, igniting suspicions of unethical practices among these prominent figures in the garment industry.

The question on everyone's mind is how individuals with backgrounds as garment workers, whose salaries typically range up to 20,000 taka, could afford such extensive international travel and accumulate significant assets. These concerns have sparked a demand from civil society for a thorough investigation into the financial affairs of these so-called garment leaders. Accusations of corruption, dishonesty, and the misuse of their positions reverberate, with claims that these leaders are manipulating the emotions of the garment workers and deceiving the international community. As the garments sector stands as a vital economic pillar for Bangladesh, the alleged actions of a few threaten to cast a shadow on the industry, jeopardizing the nation's political landscape. The call for a comprehensive inquiry into the sources of wealth of these individuals resonates from all corners, emphasizing the need for transparency and accountability in the leadership of the garment industry. The unfolding saga raises broader questions about the ethical integrity of those entrusted with the well-being of Bangladesh's economic powerhouse.

 

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