Jonathan goes digging into the world of the global sweatshop, talking with global workers rights advocate Shawna Bader-Blau on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Bangladesh factory fire …
Forgotten in the rubble of Rana Plaza is a horrific that took place at Tazreen Fashions Ltd in Bangladesh. The fire killed 112 human beings whose families have been trying to get a bit of compensation for the loss of their loves ones. And some of that is happening…of course, not with the help of Wal-Mart.
Over the years, I’ve consistently referred to Wal-Mart as The Beast of Bentonville because of its conduct at every level. Beastly. And, now, it’s topping even the despicable low standards it set to date. To the families of more than 1,200 people killed, and many more injured, who are seeking a bit of compensation money, the Beast of Bentonville is raising its corporate middle finger and saying “get fucked”.
There has been this back and forth about how to improve conditions between the companies who make a profit on the backs of dead people…well, truly, that’s the reality of profits in the garment industry — you either die standing up at work, die later because your body is broken down from slaving away for pennies or you die quickly, or perhaps slowly, when places like the Rana Plaza collapse. Now, there is a new turn in the story — and I remain skeptical still that much will change.
I’m going to guess that most people have already forgotten the tragedy of Rana Plaza. It’s far, far away for most Westerners. But, in Bangladesh, the horror of Rana has left at least the workers ready to press on to upgrade life.
Uh, it’s not a come on…seriously. If it’s a casual day, and you are just lounging around your house or walking the streets, just curious if your clothes carry a Gap or Old Navy label. Yeah, you know what’s coming — blood, sweat and tears put that on your back.
This “garment” comes cheap to billion-dollar corporations like Wal-Mart — a $45 million outlay to cover up safety and health in factories in Bangladesh. Cheap. At the cost of more human life, you can bank on it.
Panic is setting in among some of those retailers who troll the far reaches of the planet looking for cheap labor to exploit. And it’s a panic that is about loss of profit and control.
Well, I saw a day or two ago that the Administration was going to cut off Bangladesh’s trade preferences. In one sense, okay, finally. But, on the other hand, it’s sort of a minor thing if you are thinking “this will protect workers”.
I’m typically quite critical of the traditional media’s refusal to write about workers’ struggles on a regular basis, and without the “free market” spin. But this is an example of a strong story.