Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Dhaka: the High Price of Low Costs

 In addition to remembrance of our local deceased, a number of speeches at the Workers Memorial Day paid tribute to those killed in that tragic factory collapse in Dhaka Bangladesh. They also warned us that this tragedy was the result of deliberate neglect and flouting of proper safety regulation.

 From FSRN

The owner of the building that collapsed in Bangladesh appeared in court today wearing a bulletproof jacket and helmet. Mohammad Sohel Rana was arrested yesterday as authorities said he attempted to flee across the border to India.
Rescue efforts continued today at the site near Dhaka, where the eight-story building housing garment factories collapsed last week, though government officials said hope was fading of finding more survivors, according to the Daily Star.
The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, which has an office in Dhaka, said more than 400 were killed and about 1,000 remain missing.
For more, we’re joined by Liana Foxvog, organizing director International Labor Rights Forum.
For more on the campaign from the International Labor Rights Forum:

 Western companies find Bangladesh so palatable because it has few regulations and many obstacles to workers organising and acting collectively. They keep there costs low by keeping wages low and putting off luxuries like safe equipment and basic maintenance. We see now that such policies have a very high price in deed.

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — As Bangladesh reels from the deaths of hundreds of garment workers in a building collapse, the refusal of global retailers to pay for strict nationwide factory inspections is bringing renewed scrutiny to an industry that has profited from a country notorious for its hazardous workplaces and subsistence-level wages.
After a factory fire killed 112 garment workers in November, clothing brands and retailers continued to reject a union-sponsored proposal to improve safety throughout Bangladesh's $20 billion garment industry. Instead, companies expanded a patchwork system of private audits and training that labor groups say improves very little in a country where official inspections are lax and factory owners have close relations with the government.
 Though make no mistake this isn't an isolated incident, factory fires and building collapses are not uncommon in Bangladesh, though they usually killed fewer people in more remote areas and so were easier to cover up internationally.

As someone whose bought and worn clothing from some of the companies now scrambling their PR teams I'm not going to get on my high horse and demand you do anything. Though I will ask you to be mindful that the real cost of an item goes beyond the price tag, and can often be very expensive to someone else.

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