Welcome to The Times in Plain English   Click to listen highlighted text! Welcome to The Times in Plain English

The Scandal Behind the Fires at Garment Factories

December 10, 2012
Plain English Version

The fire at Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Over the last 18 months, fires killed hundreds of workers at garment factories in Karachi, Pakistan and Dhaka, Bangladesh. The factories produced clothing for American manufacturers and retail stores such as Walmart.

Worker safety is the concern of groups in these countries and in the U.S. Over the years, programs certifying the safety of the working conditions have been developed. The question is: how reliable are the certificates of safety?

The job of inspecting factories is often outsourced to private companies. These companies may be paid by the certifying agencies and even by the factories they inspect. There is the appearance of a conflict of interest.

In the last few years, garment manufacturing has shifted from China to Bangladesh and Pakistan. Wages are much lower in these countries. There are four main issues to be considered:

  • The products that cost the least to make can be sold for the lowest price
  • Developing countries do not have strong trade unions to protect workers
  • Corruption is a fact of life in the inspections
  • Closing factories that do not meet safety standards means the loss of jobs for workers

In the end, enforcing standards will mean higher costs for consumers. Advocates say, if consumers show their concern for workers by not buying the products, there is a good chance working conditions, including wages, will improve.

Some business groups say competition is fierce. Companies will continue to look for low cost production, and that means fewer jobs in countries with better working condition and standards.

 

After many years of development, China is now seen as a mature manufacturing country. Wages are rising there. Working conditions have improved.

The challenge of improving standards and not losing jobs remains very large.

The New York Times

Print Friendly

In Brief

Selling Kids on Vegetables

How to get kids to eat vegetables? Marketing is the answer. You can call it tricks or just good ideas. Whatever works.

School lunchrooms are...

What Do You Call Yourself if Your Mother is White and Your Father is Black?

On the 2010 Census, President Barack Obama, identified himself as  “black.” But millions of Americans consider themselves “bi- or multi-racial.”  And their numbers are...

Mending Walls, By Robert Frost

Robert Frost (1874 – 1963) was a great American poet. Just before he died, he read his poetry at the inauguration of President John...

Pineapple on Pizza? The Global Debate

The President of Iceland started it. Last week he joked that pizza topped with pineapple should be outlawed. His remarks set off a debate...

Archives

Dictionary
  • dictionary
  • English Dictionary

Double click on any word on the page or type a word:

Powered by dictionarist.com
Click to listen highlighted text!