Sometimes, corporate greed flares with such intensity that it ignites public outrage.
This happened in April when an eight-story, recklessly-built clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh crashed. Hundreds of workers were crushed by slabs of concrete, having been ordered by the ruthless factory owner to continue working, even though the structure’s collapse was imminent. Public rage at such scorn for the value of workers’ lives led to mass protests across the country and the jailing of the owner. Good.
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But what about his equally-culpable cohorts – the CEOs of Walmart, GAP, and other retailing behemoths who’ve instilled this culture of greed throughout their global supplchain? They’ve dictated a corporate order that compels shortcuts on safety and rewards unscrupulous factory owners. Walmart and other major clothing marketers surged into Bangladesh in recent years specifically because it has the world’s cheapest, least-protected laborers. Corporate bosses know that Bangladeshi factories are hell-holes where nightmares constantly come true.
Less than six months ago, a horrific fire in another factory in this same city killed 112 workers who were making clothing for these same giants. Walmart subsequently responded by pledging “zero tolerance” for such haphazard manufacturing, loudly launching a $1.6 million worker safety academy in Bangladesh… and blah-blah-blah. It was pure, disgraceful, PR bullstuff – and it changed nothing.
Meanwhile, Walmart refuses to sign a legally-binding Fire and Building Safety Agreement put forth by labor advocates. It would require the profiteers to make all their factories safe, open each one to independent inspectors – and stop their senseless tolerance for the serial killing of garment workers. For information on this agreement, go to www.workersrights.org.
“The Most Hated Bangladeshi, Toppled From A Shady Empire,” The New York Times, May 1, 2013.
“Retailers Split On Contrition After Collapse Of Factories,” The New York Times, May 1, 2013.
“Pinned workers beg for rescue,” Austin American Statesman, April 26, 2013.
“Pressure Builds After Collapse In Bangladesh,” The New York Times,” April 26, 2013.
“Bangladesh Lacks Factory, Fire Inspectors For Huge Industry,” www.npr.org, April 29, 2013.
“Surviving Hell In A Bangladesh Factory Collapse,” www.npr.com, April 30, 2013.
“Worker Rights Consortium Update/Statement on Bangladesh Apparel Factory Disaster,” www.werkersrights.org, April 25, 2013.
“Worker Rights Consortium Decries Latest Garment Factory Disaster in Bangladesh, Calls on Brands and Retailers to Sign Binding Building Safety Agreement and “Put an End to this Parade of Horror,”” www.workersrights.org, April 24, 2013.
“Why aren’t Bangladesh factories safer?” www.msn.com, April 29, 2013.
“Deadly Collapse in Bangladesh,” www.wsj.com, April 24, 2013.
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