Low labor costs have fueled the explosive growth of the garment industry in Bangladesh. Today, an eight-story garment factory collapsed, killing at least 70 (and the number is climbing).
It’s time to hold companies accountable for the deplorable working conditions that lead to tragedies like this. Kalpona Akter, a Bangaldeshi labor leader who’s touring the U.S. to gain support to combat these working conditions, released this statement today:
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of workers lost in this tragic event.
“It must be said, these tragedies can be prevented by multinational corporations like Walmart and the Gap that operate in Bangladesh. Because of these companies’ negligence and willful ignorance, garment workers are in danger every day because of the unsafe working conditions.
“As we learn more details, we will better understand the brands that were manufactured in these factories, but we already know that the largest retailers in the world hold tremendous power to transform conditions for garment workers – mostly young women – in Bangladesh.
“Today’s news is yet another reminder that Walmart and the Gap must immediately adopt the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, a transparent and legally binding agreement that includes worker representation, independent building inspections, worker rights training, public disclosure and a long-overdue review of safety standards. The safety agreement is the first step toward ensuring no more lives are lost.”
Thanks to the Labor Religion Coalition of New York State for the powerful image.