The Institute of Integrated Rural Development (IIRD) in Bangladesh was nominated in 2000 for the prestigious King Baudouin Prize and was selected by the World Bank's Global Development Network as "one of the ten most innovative projects in the world with the most potential for helping humanity". IIRD works with local staff in six project areas, assisting about 880 rural villages (with a total population of 1.2 million people) and 60,000 families identified for IIRD's comprehensive "poverty eradication program." Each year IIRD "graduates" about 4,000 families out of poverty, and has reduced the poverty level in its first target area from 37.4% in 1987 to 18.7% in 2002. Since 1987 IIRD has enrolled 42,000 children in primary school, installed 2,000 drinking water wells, improved the shelters of 9,400 severely poor families, employed 2,500 in its fisheries, forestry, silk and small industries projects, and meets weekly with more than 20,000 women from poor families in various community-based education, health and development projects.
An international collaborative project is being designed for the country of Bangladesh to demonstrate that a Justice-Based Management (JBM) model can replace the sweatshop model now prevalent worldwide. The Institute of Integrated Rural Development (IIRD), working with the Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ)--both the founding CESJ in the USA and its branch in Bangladesh-- the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative (MSJC) also in the USA and the Global Justice Movement, is initiating the establishment of a worker-owned readymade garment factory to be located in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Key elements of the project include:
* Majority ownership by the employees, both producers and management, with shares for groups providing start-up funding and profit-sharing by an international worker-owned marketing company dealing with JBM products.
* Development of a culture of ownership and participation among the initial 350 workers of the factory through Justice-Based Management (JBM), which promotes the dignity, development and empowerment of all workers, who will be fully involved in planning and decision-making for their venture.
* Production of quality items for international markets, bringing high levels of value to customers.
* Financially fully competitive in the national and international arenas.
* Establishment of a patented JBM-label and a marketing company to be used by this factory and others which meet similar standards, with a board to establish and promote JBM licensing criteria and a licensing association to award JBM licenses and to audit, at least annually, all licensees.
A worker-owned and Justice Based Management operated garment factory will be set up in Dhaka, Bangladesh as a model to reverse the present "sweatshop" model of the global economy. It will demonstrate that a fully competitive and profitable industrial and business venture, which fully respects the human dignity of all workers, allowing them to understand and participate in decisions related to the management and operation of their workplace as well as share profits both as employee-workers and as owner-shareholders, is a viable alternative for creating a more just, equitable and democratic world.
- To set up a legal corporation which will establish and operate a readymade garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
- To work with the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative (MSJC) of the USA and with the Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ) also in USA for successfully establishing this international model worker-owned factory.
- To structure the factory so that the workers have at least 80% ownership shares and to ensure that, besides their wages, they are able to profit fully from their ownership stake in order to be able to come out of poverty and live with dignity.
- To ensure that all associated with the factory work together with the Justice Based Management system developed and promoted by CESJ.
- To produce quality products for the full satisfaction of customers.
- To ensure full respect for the environment.
- To share this model with other industries and businesses in Bangladesh and elsewhere.
- To collaborate with a US/other developed countries marketing company, which sponsors the Justice Based Management marketing label following all standards for being licensed according to it and cooperating with regular audits of the workplace.
The Institute of Integrated Rural Development (IIRD), a Bangladeshi rural development organization, has helped to organize a team of professionals who formed an ad hoc committee for realizing the project. JBM Garments Ltd. is the name chosen for the company to be established. Our intention is to lease an existing factory which meets the main needs of our project design. Leasing involves taking over an existing company, including its name and all its licenses/ registrations, building, equipment and employees. We would then immediately be able to begin production and marketing, while gradually educating the management and other employees in Justice Base Management (JBM). Those unwilling to adapt to this system would not be kept. We would gradually make the other changes needed for the separate company.
Presently, the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative (MSJC) of the US, one of the project co-sponsors, has been working to raise seed money to get the project planned and initiated, as well as to explore some confirmed markets. An initial grant of $50,000 has been invested by the Marianist Province of the USA. Negotiation is continuing with JC Penneys for an assured market. Other marketing and funding initiatives are being pursued by IIRD on behalf of JBM Garments Ltd.
Meanwhile, the Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ) of Washington D.C., another co-sponsor of the project, has been advising the Bangladesh ad hoc committee and its resource persons on the legal and ownership structure. CESJ has also prepared a JBM marketing logo, is organizing a JBM certification board and is working with the University of Dayton in Ohio to explore setting up a marketing company for JBM products. IIRD is preparing a course on JBM for the ad hoc committee members, IIRD personnel interested in promoting the JBM system of worker ownership in its rural industries and other organizational personnel that have requested to join the training.