Raveena Aulakh from The Toronto Star worked at a Bangladesh sweatshop for a week under the guidance of her nine-year-old boss, a girl named Meem, who started working 12-hour shifts at the sweatshop to help support her family after her mother stopped working and her 15-year-old construction worker brother left the family to live on his own. The story is a good glimpse into some of the working conditions at Bangladesh garment factories.
Bangladeshi garment workers are among the most poorly paid people in the world and often work as much as 80 hours a week, so these protests are inevitable. Planet Money has been doing a series of stories about how a T-shirt is made that’s been very good at providing us with some context about the lives of these workers (see their stories here and their Tumblr here). “Fast fashion” stores use the cheap labor in Bangladesh to keep their prices low (“The garment industry has low margins, and this creates great pressure to keep wages low — though there have been some efforts to improve conditions.”)