DHAKA — A helpline which allows Bangladeshi garment workers to report workplace concerns will remain in place in the country after the work of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) is complete. The Alliance has announced its confidential 24/7 worker helpline—Amader Kotha (“Our Voice”)—will transition this month to an independent initiative which will now have the ability to expand its services beyond Alliance factories.
The Alliance made the announcement as it moves toward transitioning its factory safety and worker empowerment initiatives to an independent Safety Monitoring Organization (SMO) managed in partnership with local partners.
Established by the Alliance in 2014 as an empowerment mechanism for workers in Alliance-affiliated factories, the Helpline allows garment workers to report and resolve issues in their factories, ranging from emergencies and urgent safety concerns to workplace abuse and wage compensation disputes. Since its inception, more than 233,000 inbound calls from workers in over 1,000 factories have been received. To date, more than 80 per cent of all substantive issues have been resolved.
“Amader Kotha has empowered hundreds of thousands of garment workers to report issues of concern anonymously and without fear of retribution,” said Jim Moriarty, executive director of the Alliance. “We are incredibly proud to leave the Helpline as a legacy, and that this important resource will continue, and grow, under the leadership of the Helpline project partners.”
Workers in Alliance factories have praised the Helpline as having a direct impact on their daily lives. “The Helpline allows us to get problems resolved, and our supervisors have started to take our concerns more seriously thanks to the Helpline,” said Shahnaz Akter.
Through a donation made in the name of former Alliance independent chair, the Hon. Ellen Tauscher, Alliance member brands will continue to fund Amader Kotha in its initial phase under new management.
“The Amader Kotha Helpline Center is now housed at Phulki,” announced Suraiya Haque, founder and executive director of Phulki, a Bangladesh civil society organisation. “We are delighted to continue this enormously beneficial program in collaboration with our project partners, Clear Voice, a project of The Cahn Group, LLC, and LaborLink, recently acquired by ELEVATE, a mobile platform that establishes a two-way communication channel between organisations and their workers.”