Bangladesh: garment workers shine in singing competition

Not their skill with needle and thread was called for but their vocal skills: Bangladeshi garment workers once more took on the challenge of finding the greatest voice among them. The heavily televised and popular event, titled “Gorbo” (meaning pride), was organized for the second time by the BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) exclusively for garment workers.

Apparel worker Faruq Hossain was announced the winner of the 2nd BGMEA Gorbo contest in the grand finale on December 8th, which was held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka and aired live on TV. He received prize money in the amount of 1 million Bangladeshi Taka (almost 13,000 US dollars). Sohel Arman and Tanvir Ahmed, the first and second runner-up, received 500,000 and 300,000 Bangladeshi Taka, respectively (almost 6,500 and 4,000 US dollars).

The contest was open to all apparel workers employed in garment factories in Dhaka, Savar, Narayanganj, Gazipur or Chittagong that are part of the BGMEA. Participating garment workers took part in a reality show that began months ago and culminated in the grand finale.

The last four contenders battled it out on the 8th of December and had to give chorus and solo musical performances followed by a chorus song with the Top 10 Gorbo 2014 contenders and a special choreography and song performance.

It is refreshing to see this side of an industry that is usually in the news for factory accidents, worker strikes or garment export figures. And given the popularity of singing contests, reality shows and Bollywood in Bangladesh, it seems an innovative approach to motivating garment workers to shine, aspire and last but not least, earn a substantial amount of money. Maybe the western fashion and garment industry should take a cue?

Photo: Faruq Hossain receiving his cheque; BGMEA