Leading retail stores, such as Walmart, Gap and Target get much of their clothing from the “sweat shops” in Bangladesh. These stores sell the clothing at low prices to consumers in the U.S.A. and all over the world.
One year ago, 1,129 workers died in the Rana Plaza fire near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Three groups are now conducting factory inspections in Bangladesh. One group of mostly European stores is called the “Accord.” The second group of mostly American and Canadian stores is called the “Alliance.” The third inspecting group is the Bangladesh government.
There are more than 5,000 garment factories in Bangladesh. Critics say only the best factories are getting inspected.
Naturally, the groups are competing to see which is doing the best job. One says they are doing the best inspections. Another says they are doing more inspections. This competition may seem silly or unneccessary. But an observer suggested that the competition is making each of them try harder. The safety of workers will increase.
Workers are still at risk. An inspector for Accord said, “There are gates that can be locked at 90 percent of the factories. Sometimes they are even locked when our engineers are there.”
Some factories are being closed. Others seem willing to continue to risk the lives of their workers. Everyone agrees it is a big job to make the industry safer.
American consumers want lower prices. It may not be possible in the long run.
- Low prices mean low wages to the workers who sew the clothes.
- If workers join unions they can bargain for higher wages.
- If the factories are made safer, the cost of manufacturing may go up.
- If prices rise, the retail stores could take smaller profits or raise prices.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor April 24, 2014