Dream Beyond: LIFE Lost in Labor

What is the state of human beings in relation to the economy of industry, or, to put another way, the reality of production and sale? With this question at the back of our minds, we may enter the realm of labour. And labour is one of the crucial elements if any industry is to thrive. 

Take for example the leather industry in Bangladesh – it shows how Bangladeshi leather goods are doing well in the global market. When business booming, underneath that spark, there lies a dark patch – labourers in the industry simply smarting under an inhuman condition. Working in a hazardous environment, these are the faceless people of the industrial landscape on whom.

The modern leather industry is simultaneously upsetting the local environment and abusing the people who work there and are forced to spend their days handling toxic chemicals.

I still remember, after returning from a photoshoot at a tannery, the stench stayed with me for days. Setting foot in the tanneries is an assault on the senses.The scene was seemingly post-apocalyptic, the stench overwhelming and almost vomit-inducing. But among those who modelled for the finished products were people in nice leather jackets or with leather handbags. 

These made me want to go back even more and document the working conditions of those who are not seen, but are behind the luxury of our daily lives. When I first entered the tanners area, I was at the same time fascinated by the friendliness of the people and shocked by their working condition. People were working in a knee deep soup of raw hides, leftovers and chemicals. Young men were carrying hides on their head and made it through the burning heat. I felt like having arrived in a limbo. 

I later found out that some of the tanneries haven’t modernised the technology for decades. Workers only relied on their muscle power and didn’t earn more than a meager sum a day.