Friday, May 3, 2013

Bangladesh: the exploitation of the impoverished by the wealthy capitalists

The collapse of the eight-storey building in Savar, which left more than 400 dead, shone light on the overseas operations of the fast-fashion industry, where impoverished garment workers went to work in a building with cracked walls that had been ordered evacuated. (from "Bangladesh factory collapse: Loblaw to audit structural safety of suppliers’ buildings, by Francine Kopun, Toronto Star, Mary 2, 2013, excerpted below)
It is all very well for Mr. Weston, under provocation from unions and public pressure, to seek better auditing of working conditions in Bangladesh, and even to provide some compensation for families of the victims of this latest tragedy, neverthelesss, the story serves as a glaring example of the power imbalance between countries where people are struggling for survival and those where wealth is not only taken for granted but is really used as a weapon against those struggling people.
With garment industry wages in China "rising" to $200 a month, as compared with $38 a month in Bangladesh, no one is surprised that companies like Loblaws would move their orders for cheap but fashionable clothing to Bangladesh. However, it is the race to the bottom, on worker protections and on environmental protections that has in large part characterized the movement to globalize the world's economy.
So long as the world worships at the altar of the capitalist, corporatist profit motive, to the degree that it has become a kind of holy grail for many of the brightest college graduates in the last generation, and pays mere lip service to the notion of "social needs," the story of the collapse of the garment factory building in Bangladesh will be just another chapter of exploitation, abuse and criminial negligence on the part of those who write the cheques for their clothing production orders.
So long as the governments where these corporations operate "sleep" with their corporate pupeteers, and make decisions, as the U.S. Congress did in 2005 to remove the limits on clothing imports into that country, thereby completely "gutting" the U.S. garment industry, leaving a few struggling producers only in the U.S. while granting the corporate executives access to the world's poorest people, as their "slaves" this kind of oppression, racism and commodofication of human beings, at the lowest possible level, will not only continue, it will continue to grow. Now there is a growing gap between the kind of technology used in the Chinese garment factories and those in Bangladesh, giving the Chinese far superior equipment on which to operate, and thereby to produce more intricate and detailed enhancements on the garments produced there, also at higher production costs, leaving the race to the bottom in full operation.
Making public relations "lemonade" of what is much more than a "lemon" of a story, in fact a scathing indictment of the political/economic cabal which holds the people of the world hostage, as Mr. Weston is doing so effectively, merely brings a small cover-up to the glaring structural weaknesses of the greed and profit that drive the world's economy.



Bangladesh factory collapse: Loblaw to audit structural safety of suppliers’ buildings


Labour organizations call on Loblaw Cos. executive chairman Galen Weston to take immediate steps to prevent another tragedy in Bangladesh

By Francine Kopun, Toronto Star, Mary 2, 2013
As the death toll in Bangladesh’s biggest industrial disaster continues to rise, apparel retailers around the world are taking steps toward improving worker safety in the struggling nation.

The collapse of the eight-storey building in Savar, which left more than 400 dead, shone light on the overseas operations of the fast-fashion industry, where impoverished garment workers went to work in a building with cracked walls that had been ordered evacuated.
Here in Canada, Galen Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw Companies Ltd., announced Thursday that his company will send Canadian employees to monitor factories in Bangladesh where Joe Fresh clothing is made. In addition, a team of senior company officials, including supply chain experts, will travel there next week to discuss safety with Bangladeshi officials and unions.
Loblaw has also set up a fund for victims and their families.
Weston said a new standard has been established at Loblaw in the wake of the tragedy — all products under their brand control must be made in facilities that respect local construction and building codes.
Joe Fresh clothing is made at 47 factories in Bangladesh.



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