Why Bangladeshi Workers Die in Fires

I’m not a fan of Bloomberg, but Shahidul News has reposted an article which was published on Bloomberg yesterday, Wal-Mart Nixed Paying Bangladesh Suppliers to Fight Fire by reporters Renee Dudley & Arun Devnath which makes clear the role of companies including Wal-Mart and Gap.

They report some of the statements made during a meeting to try to increase safety in Bangladesh’s garment factories, and in particular to increase standards of electrical and fire safety (and their enforcement.) They quote a Wal-Mart director of ethical sourcingĀ  Sridevi Kalavakolanu as having said that that “very extensive and costly modifications” would need to be made to some factories, and thatĀ  “It is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.”

Some of the name brands have signed up to an agreement, and pressure from some brands has led to improvements in working conditions in some factories due to their pressure on them, but half of the garment workplaces in Bangladesh still don’t meet the country’s legal standards.

This is a report that should be read in full and it makes clear that action is needed in countries where the clothes are sold to force the companies to face up to their responsibilities towards the workers who make their clothes. It may mean an end to the dirt-cheap bargains on our high streets, but many of the clothes manufactured for next to nothing actually end up as relatively high priced designer label goods, and the name brands with high mark-ups can certainly afford to pay. The Bloomberg article does say that a couple of the dozen retailers who attended the meeting have signed up to the memorandum, but the rest need to follow their example.

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