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Brick Slaves

Exploitation at Bangladesh brick factories

Even today, slavery persists in Bangladesh’s brick factories; millions work hard to make bricks by hand. There are no safety precautions, but industrial injury and corporal punishment are commonplace. Men, women and children of all ages are put to work making bricks. The process looks easy; workers mix the clay, pour it into wooden moulds and wait for the bricks to dry. They are then taken to a kiln to be fired for 24 hours. Many say they are forced to work overtime and endure dire working conditions. Any complaint provokes a beating.

Bangladesh is rapidly urbanising. The high demand for affordable building materials is driving brick production. There are thought to be around 10,000 brickyards all over Bangladesh. Workers toil through the dry season before the rains kick in. Brick production comes at a high cost to health and the environment. Workers are exposed to harmful red dust that causes bronchitis and other lung diseases, and brick factories generate millions of tons of greenhouse gases.