Should the West enforce better building and workplace standards in the developing world?

Workers search for survivors under the rubble. (Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty)

Workers search for survivors under the rubble. (Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty)

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Bangladesh factory collapse: Authorities fear that close to 600 people died in the factory that made cheap clothes for Western markets.

Should the West enforce better building and workplace standards in the developing world?





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Introduction

The death toll is still rising in the Bangladesh factory collapse of almost two weeks ago. Since then more than 600 people have been pulled dead from the rubble. It was a clothing factory where as many as 30 companies contracted their clothing orders for manufacture. Prominent among them was Canadian company Loblaw ...prominent because a photograph of a Joe Fresh label sticking out of the rubble shot around the world on the Internet.

It was a five-story building to which three additional floors had been added illegally. There is also evidence that substandard materials were used in the building construction, the design of which was never intended to house heavy manufacturing equipment.

Almost two weeks ago, an engineer noticed cracks in the walls and police ordered the building evacuated ...but not all companies complied with the order ...and the next day, April 24, 2013 the building collapsed with hundreds of people inside.

The owner of the building and some engineers have been taken into custody.

This is not the first such disaster in the region. Many workers have died recently in garment factories. A fire in another Bangladesh factory just six months ago killed 112 people and before that a fire in a Pakistan factory killed 260 people.

Some say that Western consumers are getting cheap goods at the cost of the lives of poor people in developing countries. Some have tried to organize boycotts. But what is the extent of responsibility born by consumers and by the Western business that outsource their labour? Countries such as China, Bangladesh and Pakistan have building and workplace standards but they are not always obeyed and not always enforced. There are already attempts by the UN as well as national and international labour organizations to create universal workplace standards. How closely should consumers and businesses examine the practices and procedures of foreign businesses who enter into trade relationships? Who should pay ...and ultimately who should be held responsible when things go wrong?

Some of the companies with business in the building that collapsed in Bangladesh have promised to work to ensure standards are raised and complied with. Other companies in earlier disasters simply pulled their business out, unwilling to risk further embarassment at being associated with conditions that led to so many workplace deaths. Critics say pulling out often leaves the workers and the countries in worse shape ...that their only hope for future development lies in being brought into the stream of world commerce.

We want to know what you think.

Our question today: "Should the West enforce better building and workplace standards in the developing world?"

I'm Rex Murphy ...On CBC Radio One and on Sirius Satellite Radio channel 159 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


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Yes of course the West should enforce its standards on other people cause the West is Best. Wait! This is 2013 not 1913...........maybe not...........

Robin Reid
St. John's Newfoundland


In anticipation of today's topic, here's my opinion: This whole disaster is the result of the global economics of that fascist Milton Friedman and his accolytes Reagan and Thatcher -- and now Steven Harper. Any amount of suffering and even deaths for the almighty bottom line. The bean-counters rule. Galen Weston's crocodile tears aside, his doubtful awakening is 500-plus dead sweatshop slaves too late. The answer is global labor- rights laws, global minimum wage laws and a boycott of companies who deal in this kind of slavery. To say these poor people are better off with these sweatshops than without them is like saying black slavery in the U.S. was better for the slaves than no jobs at all. It does not wash off the guilt of everyone who buys and wears these cheap goods. For a start, pay more and BUY CANADIAN.

Thomas Nixon


I don't think we should talk about "Western Nations" "enforcing" standards in other nations. The west (as a major consumer) does have an important role to play in a global matter though.

I think it is more about the need for all countries and large organizations to better leverage international standards organizations and international agreements and accords.

All global partners need to collaborate on this (East, West, North, South, Labour interests, Business interests, Consumer groups etc.) Economic globalization happened and continues to develop so rapidly in this technological age..it is just amazing, but we haven't been able to keep up in terms of the regulatory and legal frameworks.

Also, large organizations - especially multinational ones (wherever they are based) - need to do more work in the area of making sure that their suppliers and global partners are compliant with these regulatory frameworks. Consumers and governments (across the world) need to hold these bodies accountable.

Indira Brown
Torono, Ontario

 

It appears from the news reports that garment factories must now be classified as being "weapons of mass destruction", unless somebody has very recently redefined WsMD. Personally, I believe that the definition is so loose and so unpredictable that any judge who fails to declare the definition of WsMD to be unacceptable in any court for the purpose of ruling on guilt or innocence ought to have to pass the rest of his or her life incarcerated in a maximum security prison.

Daniel Henskee


If WHOLESALE BUYERS would pay more for their product, the factory owners would have a bigger margin and would do the maintenance. They have a vested interest in keeping their factories standing as they do not make money if it collapses. Wholesale buyers squeeze factories to produce for less.

Grace Hope
Camrose, Alberta


Western companies need to be investing in bringing work back to the west where we can look after our own environment and our working conditions, and have 'made in Canada' quality products and jobs for ourselves, ideally at living wages for our country's cost of living.

Free trade in Canada took jobs to Mexico where labour costs were low and the environment could be exploited. We were also getting more clothes made in Bangladesh where people are paid pennies, not dollars.

Big companies make their big profits from paying farmers and processors the least amount of money. Taking jobs to third world and developing countries (Bangladesh, China) where labour standards and working conditions are not unionized, have allowed big profits for many people.

Why aren't we talking about bringing jobs back to Canada, where 'made in Canada' would mean we could ensure quality products (not underpants that wear out in six weeks not two years) and have jobs in Canada.

The grassroots organic movement in the 1980s taught people to vote with their food dollar and we stopped buying products that didn't support safe working conditions for Chilean grape growers.

The big box stores that sell mainly overseas produced goods, and believe you are 'saving money' but don't have decent paying jobs for your kids, or yourself as an over 50s person, maybe the 'cheapest' isn't the best vote with your clothing, appliance or furniture purchase dollar.

Maybe we need to have 'free trade' with ourselves, and start offering 'buy made in Canada' options for appliances, clothes, technology, call centers.... pretty well everything thtat took jobs from Canada could be brought back 'home'.

Sharon Rempel
Victoria, British Columbia


I can't help but think about the poor people who died so tragically for cheap clothing and profit.

I have found this to be à propos:

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.
Everybody was sure that somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did.
Somebody got angry because it was everybody's job.
Everybody knew that Anybody could do it,
But nobody realized that somebody wouldn't do it.

And everybody blamed somebody because nobody actually asked Anybody.

Adapted from Charles Osgood

Best regards and I hope somebody will take the bull by the horns.

Louis Grenier
Calgary, Alberta

 

I am continually frustrated that we remain in every way and every instance a re-active rather than a pro-active way.  Whether it is Bangladeshi building codes or distracted driving, the legislation always follows the disaster. I'm thinking back to flaming Ford Pintos and the like. How often do we build a bridge just a little stronger? Is that because of a rabidily capitalist business ethic?

Thomas Brawn
Orleans, Ontario

Our food comes with nutrition facts on the label, perhaps it is time to introduce a workplace standards labeling system. I doubt many would be able to purchase a piece of clothing that had the label "This item was made in a sweatshop", no matter what the price.

Katie Macvicar


I would like to know the rest of the companies that were using this factory. I feel Loblaws is taking a huge hit and the rest are hiding. I do not want to purchase from those companies but do not know who I should be avoiding.

Heather Orlukiewicz

 

Whatever happened to 'made in Canada' & a 'fair return' on products. Sure, you have to pay higher wages here but you employ people here, you increase manufacturing & taxable personal income & create a more vibrant economy.  I am disgusted that the quest for profit is the be all & end all for most businesses. You need to look no further than Kevin O'Leary on Dragon's Den whose only criteria for a successful business is how much profit is in the deal. He advises to ship the production offshore for the cheapest labour possible & looks down on those who try to do the right thing.

Kathy Moore
Bella Coola, British Columbia

 

Who is responsible for this tragedy?  The building was a local issue - money driven, no doubt. . . engineers as well as factory owners.

There is this push to say it is the consumer's fault for "enjoying" the low priced goods.

Why not the corporations - the wealthy multi-nationals?   It is convenient for them to duck under the slogan: "this is what works with the consuming public".

We debate endlessly about the ethics around assisted suicide - when it comes to "assisted suicide" on a grand scale, e.g. Bangladesh factories, we look for excuses; for whom to blame.

Perhaps all three named above are to blame.  It is quite common that the consumer who buys the cheap shirts also owns shares in the multi-national corporations.  This is a type of schizophrenia.  Is this not conflict of interest?

Bill Block
Winnipeg, Manitoba


I believe we have no business interfering with the internal affairs of another country.
I also believe that Canadian companies should be held accountable for the labour practices of  their subcontractors and suppliers. I believe that Canadian companies need to investigate where their products come from. If is determined that the conditions do not meet an acceptable standard, it should fall upon the Canadians importers to find another supplier or face prosecution in Canada.
If we put a few corporate execs in jail for this in Canada the problem may disappear very quickly.
After all, we have laws governing the behavior of Canadians abroad when it comes to the hiring of prostitutes why not rules governing the hiring of slaves and near slaves to make our tennis shoes?

Donald LeBrun
Ottawa, Ontario


Thank you for keeping the spotlight on the issue of the abusive garment industry in 3rd world countries. I think western consumers need to think about the products we buy and to demand better. We need to realize Our actions have a consequence. Like Rex said even when we buy high priced garments from big expensive brands we still are complicit in the exploitation. These companies are making huge margins. And consumers are oblivious. Or are we?! We do know but we choose to look the other way. We are so taken by the cutest clothes, the latest style and more more more. It's a lifestyle that ends in tragedy on soapy levels /environmentally and socially. Our dollars need to do good not this.

But there are alternatives. I started a small company to make organic bedding for kids because I was tired of lack of options that are toxin free, but I also wanted to make sure my biz was a part of a cycle that supports workers My products are produced here in Toronto by women in an employment training program called Sistering. It may mean a smaller profit margin for me but my customers feel value in choosing something that is sustainable and moral and Ecofriendly. And as a business owner I am also a citizen of the world and have something good to contribute that isn't just about more more and more.

Some consumers are buying local, looking for alternatives. We are the reformed materialists. Come join us! Demand more from the brands we want to love.

Shelley Smith
Toronto, Ontario

 

I believe one question posed by the host was if the "west" should impose better standards onto places that aren't the "west".
My understanding is that both the factory owner and an engineer responsible for the construction are both under arrest.
If on 9/11 one plane hitting a building caused it to disintegrate to dust and neither the owner nor the company's responsible for the construction were arrested, I fail to understand what "track record" the host uses to inform his question that the "west" would be a better steward of justice for those killed at the hand of others.
(Let alone that building WTC 7 collapses into its own footprint due to an office fire (no matter how hot the carpets were burning).


Bob Campbell
Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba

How can poor countries afford the kind of workers protections we have here?

Kjell Nilsen
Victoria, British Columbia


If Canadian companies import products from third world countries they do have a responsibility in all of the conditions. These companies go to the 3rd world in order to make more of a profit.  The company they buy the products from are out to make more of a profit as well. The Canadian company could, and should, be responsible for investigating the factories before they buy. Not to dictate standards, but if the standards are poor they should NOT do business with that 3rd world company. They should NOT even THINK if signing a contract.

It sounds very logical and simple to me . But I have the impression that Canadian companies are happy to "look the other way" to maximize their profit !!

Eleanor Hamilton
Richmond British Columbia


The companies we out source to should have safety standards to follow which are enforced by their government. Companies that do out source to save buck should not have to make sure that safety standards are followed , that is the job of the government in thier area. That is the way we do manufacturing in Canada and thats why is costs more here. God bless Canadian Unions and our safety standards for looking after us the last 8 decades.

Randy Kirch
Elmira, Ontario

 

Just a small comment on the way we are presenting this story. From the start, every broadcast of this story includes a reference to either Loblaws or Joe Fresh - focusing the ire of listeners on this despicable business practice However, I think we are missing the opportunity of personalizing our own practices and the contribution of these practices to this tragedy. As long as the "blame" or complicity  is focused on the middleman so to speak it allows the consumer attitide of shopping with the cheapest price possible to contine to be a driver for these practices. Unfortunately, we in the west tend to have our consciousness raised repeatedly by these tragedies - let's take this opportunity to publicly via newscast point the finger at ourselves - and I include myself in that - and hopefully learn that lesson and make the changes that need to be made. There are many businesses that make their money in the same way as Loblaws or Joe Fresh. They are only responding to our demand

Love your show Rex and you are near the top of my list of amazing Canadians.

Sherry Shaaked
Ottawa, Ontario


Interesting that there is an emerging strong union-busting movement in North America. Seems that we are going backwards. Moving jobs overseas allows companies to bypass regulated working conditions. We used to have a strong manufacturing sector in Canada -- those jobs have disappeared.

Joan Westran
Victoria British Columbia


I'm co-founder of a NS-based fair trade social enterprise called TAMMACHAT Natural Textiles. We recently published a blog post called: 5 Things You Can Do for Garment Workers

1. Learn the difference between what you need and what you want.
If we all bought fewer things, we would have bigger budgets for essentials.

2. Support local farmers, craftspeople and economies when and where possible. A sweater that was knit locally was not produced in a dangerous sweatshop.
 
3. Bring your reading glasses shopping, if necessary, so you can read labels. Develop an awareness of what's in products and where they're made. Look especially for certifications such as "union-made," "fair trade" or "organic"
   
4. Ask for fairly traded and ethically sourced items from the stores you frequent. Independent local retailers can be more responsive than mega-stores like Walmart. If you feel it's necessary to shop at chain stores, take time to write to their CEO to express your concerns for workers' rights and environmental protection.
  
5. As global consumers, we can also learn more about global labour trends.

Ellen Agger


It seems to me that this is not a complicated issue. If "we" - ie the western, "first world"  corporations  and consumers, want access to countries in development, to produce goods for our markets, we need to acknowledge that the right to profit from the labour of their people, in order to have any semblance of fairness, must also include the obligation to protect those whose labour produces our profits! I would like to understand what model of "Globalizatiion" we are discussing! I would also like to ask whether the United Nations is there merely to decide who can be bombed and who can do the bombing or whether there is some concern for the welfare of the citizens of the future, soon to be present, global world. That this discussion even has to take place, since the anwer, to me, is so obvious, does not paint a very promising future for our "One World"  Surely, the safety and welfare of individual human beings must take precendence over profits in corporate pockets - wherever they be- and over comsumer brgains.  Where are our morals and ethics? Please! You want the rights, you must squarely shoulder the duties and responsibilities. In this sense we are all responsible for this tragedy.

Victoria
North Vancouver, British Columbia

 

Pay a decent wage!. Let those companies that outsource their manufacturing get together and agree on a living wage!

Maybe encourage forming a union with clout.

Gerritdina Prins
Fort Saskatchewan

While my following comments are not intend to belittle the good will and the financial help instituted by those who have taken positive initiative to support the people of Bangladesh, I find the overall attitude and reasoning about such tragedy very paternalistic and offensive. If it appears as if that country is a colony owned by multi-nationals and private enterprises, it is probably the reason why their government is absent in all aspect
of its economy. Acting as if we (Canada etc...) could run the affairs of another nation, it will not bring any solution to the present situation. In fact, it could worsen it.

Regards

Vittorio Canta
Sutton, Quebec


The real cause of tragedies such as we have seen in Bangladesh is that corporate interests control the government. They very effectively prevent the establishment of regulations that would force them to maximize something other than profit. As a result, business needs only to pay lip service to safety and economic outcomes for the workers. It is a scary thought, but government is the only institution that could set up the rules so that profit would only be possible if and when other conditions were met. Therefore the central issue is how to dis-empower corporations and empower the people, in an orderly fashion, without bloodshed, and without creating a dictatorship.

Matthew Morycinski


This may be a stupid question but why don't the clothing companies build their own plants? Toyota does it when it comes here. Eliminate the local sweat-shop owner. Better than what I fear will happen, the companies will just go elsewhere & leave the Bangladeshis with nothing.

John Blackwood
Toronto, Ontario


Much has has been talked about the Bangladesh garment factory disaster by many experts as well as consumers. No concrete or workable solution has been proposed thus far.

The silence from the Harper government on this matter and on solutions thereto is quite deafening. This is not at all surprising given the fact that this government has been allowing very poor working conditions for temporary foreign workers in Canada.

Here is a possible solution in a nutshell that importing countries can adopt:

1. Enactment of legislation that will impose preferential tarrifs levied upon goods imported into Canada by Canadian and other corporations based on a formula which ensures that the tarrifs become progressively lower as the working conditions and wages in factories in which they are produced more closely approach those that will provide a decent quality of life for their workers, becoming zero when they do provide a decent quality of life.

2.  In order to make the legislation really work, Canadian and other governments need to send their inspectors to factories to determine how closely the wages and working conditions of workers approach those needed to ensure a decent quality of life for them at their particular geographical location.

Without legislation which has such teeth, all talk about ethical purchasing, however well intentioned, is just a lot of hot air.

Yours truly,

Kabeer Ahmed Sayeed
Ottawa, Ontario


I'm hearing a lot of people blaming this tragedy on so-called "fast fashion", aka, cheap clothing. However, it's a common misconception that it is only cheap clothing that is manufactured under these conditions. Not so, designer clothing is also primarily produced in foreign countries with little or no labour codes or regulations. That makes me even sicker. The markup designers make is insane--we're talking profit in the 1000s of percentages. I think this tragedy highlights the need for international laws and standards to govern the garment and textile industry. And the solution will be driven not with a just few fast-fashion retailers (although, it's a good place to start), but with all retailers, manufacturers, governments, the workers, and the consumers themselves. Everyone deserves safe working conditions.

Thank you,
Laurie Vosters
Nanaimo, British Columbia

 

As I listen to the discussion about what can be done to prevent tragedies like the one that happened this week in Bangladesh, I think that the key to improvements is the Bangladeshi people. Just because we have better labour conditions because of a century or more of social action doesn't mean that other countries can simply take what we took so long to figure out and implement it in a few years. They have to work things out themselves. Having said that, I have no idea how to support that development directly, but we can't take our business somewhere else. That can only undermine their efforts.

Dean Jones
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

 

Given that the building where Joe Fresh production took place is gone, why not build the workers a new one? Perhaps with accommodations attached or nearby? It would give an enormous boost to the local economy,help the workers there and give Loblaw's first rate publicity.

Einer Voldner
Milton, Ontario


Just one comment. I find is disturbing that workers in Bangladesh were ordered by their bosses to go to work in an unsafe building.  The same thing recently happened in Edmonton with correction workers who complained about unsafe conditions - they were court (government) ordered to go back into the building. Is Canada really any better in terms of safety when the government is forces workers into an unsafe work place?

Sandy Hilliard
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


I'm listening to your program, Rex, and am not comfortable calling in but I wanted to share my thoughts: We MUST NOT boycott doing business in Bangladesh but we must boycott hefty profit margins from owners of the factories, Western companies doing business there, investors (to a lesser degree including people like you and I) and consumers.

Regarding corruption, this seems to be a forgone conclusion.  So, if the general public is aware that corruption plays a great part in the business culture in Bangladesh, then certainly parties from Western companies executing business there, must know.  We cannot control or change this reality in Bangladesh, but corporate parties from the West must abstain from complying to any unethical business practices required for the sake of profit - this can be controlled.

Lastly, I agree that any Western company with transactions in Bangladesh must demand and implement safety and health standards comparable to Western expectations.  Time, money and culturally appropriate approaches will make this possible.

Thank you.

Lidia Bomba-Sorba
Calgary, Alberta


Every single one of Rex's guests and speakers talked almost exclusively about Bangladesh's position as a low-cost manufacturer for the west. Where is the discussion about why and how we are forcibly bringing (or maybe have forcibly brought) yet another diverse culture into a western vision of world prosperity?

Recently the world seems to have somehow determined that the big capitalism model is the only way to go.Sadly this may now turn out to be the only practical outcome, as many local models (of commerce, not of labour) seem to have been proven inferior.

The world is a poorer place because of it.

Paul Kroitor
Montreal, Quebec

 

I'd like to suggest extending the safe coverage of people manufacturing goods for the west to the communities surrounding the manufacturers. The Union Carbide accident of Bhopal India 30 years ago was a negligence that did not punish the workers so much as the entire population. Making a building structurally safer doesn't prevent its effluent from damaging its surroundings. Thanks.   

Paul Gorcey

When the Japanese auto industry moved into manufacturing in the North American market the process was overseen by Japanese experts in the field. Why cannot companies wanting to manufacture goods in foreign countries set the same requirements to do business in these countries. We need more fair trade requirements for goods purchased abroad.

Anna Gallie


How about if part of the contract with a western business was to agree to put webcams in the factories?  I feel that intimidation can keep employees from reporting on inhuman working conditions, even if a company went to check with them on standards of construction.  ISO9000 is a best practices Quality Management System, that could be applied to standards expected.   Also, before a contract is signed, a western business should go and personally check the quality of the location where the factory will do its work.

Boycotts are problematic because by saying "Bangladesh is bad"  because of this collapse, we may end up removing valuable jobs from a country that really needs them.  We need their  government to take some responsibility, and then as world citizens we have to ask the companies that do business in any factory to provide a certification that states they have checked, and have a paper trail to show that they did due diligence.

Catherine Dempsey
Flatrock, Newfoundland

 

Despite the fact that you have mentioned it more than once, so far none of the listeners called in to agree with you, regarding the extraordinarily high profits taken by the companies on the backs of these poor minimum wage workers.  If margins are so low these corporations should be satisfied with slightly lower profits in favour of much improved safety for the workers who create the goods they corporations flog. They will continue to outsource because it is cheaper, but now they will have a false excuse to increase consumer prices here in North America. But despite that, you can be sure the workers will not see substantial increase in pay or improvement of working conditions. It is a catch 22 situation. Boycotting goods made in Bangladesh  will made the workers suffer more due to unemployment. If government officials are corrupt and are the factory owners you can be guaranteed there will be little done to improve the situation.

Carol Chang
Edmonton, Alberta


Rex, it's not all bad news.  I am a professor of International  Business at Cape Breton University in Sydney, NS.  I am teaching today's BBA students about issues such as "Bangladesh" in my courses.  The interesting thing is I am starting a spring course tomorrow.  There are 45 registered; not one is a Canadian.  So after learning about this topic, they will return to their own countries and hopefully influence working conditions in their own countries as any one person can.  I am specifically going to use your "Checkup in an Hour" to play as a prelude to a formal debate that we will stage during this month.  Thanks for doing this show.

Dannie Brown
North Sydney


It is clear that the building code in Bangladesh was violated.  A number of key people have been arrested and may well face the death penalty under the laws of Bangladesh.

With the exception of facing the death penalty as a consequence, building codes are occasionally violated in Canada as well, witness the collapse of the overpass in Montreal and parking mall in Elliot Lake.

The major cost factor in producing clothing is the human input and Bangladesh labor is low in cost and will remain so for a long time.  The owner is likely now to pay with his or her life and we can expect that with this example, other owners in Bangladesh are going to be much more careful to not commit the same mistake.

Quite a few of the comments, while well intended, would sound like racism to the ciitizens of Bangladesh and I would tend to agree with them.

Phillip Schubert
Kanata, Ontario


The model of the Forestry Stewardship Council of Canada might be useful in helping people to evaluate the conditions under which foreign labour takes place.  Here is the FSC model:

"FSC is an international certification and labeling system dedicated to promoting responsible forest management of the world's forests.

This means that forests are evaluated to meet FSC's strict environmental and social standards. Fibre from certified forests is then tracked all the way to the consumer through the FSC Chain of Custody system. FSC-certified wood, paper and other forest products are then sold with the FSC label by certified companies in the marketplace.  FSC enables businesses and consumers to make informed choices about the forest products they buy, and create positive change to keep our forests healthy for generations to come."    https://ca.fsc.org/who-we-are.186.htm

A parallel NGO could monitor working conditions on products imported into Canada.  Perhaps a government grant could help to get such an NGO started.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Woodworth
Victoria, BC


How about if part of the contract with a western business was to agree to put webcams in the factories?  I feel that intimidation can keep employees from reporting on inhuman working conditions, even if a company went to check with them on standards of construction.  ISO9000 is a best practices Quality Management System, that could be applied to standards expected.   Also, before a contract is signed, a western business should go and personally check the quality of the location where the factory will do its work.

Boycotts are problematic because by saying "Bangladesh is bad"  because of this collapse, we may end up removing valuable jobs from a country that really needs them.  We need their  government to take some responsibility, and then as world citizens we have to ask the companies that do business in any factory to provide a certification that states they have checked, and have a paper trail to show that they did due diligence.

Catherine Dempsey
Flatrock, Newfoundland

 

As a Bangladeshi I can say that nothing is worse than a mass exodus from my country. The garments industry has done a lot for empowering women in my country. Instead of boycotting bangladesh, companies should insist on safety ans labour rights from factories in Bangladesh. Ultimately the responsibility is mostly on our factory owners and govt.

Abeer Reza
Ottawa, Ontario


Until you have lived in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or India, you have no conception of the depths of corruption within and throughout the government and society. Unless Galen Weston goes to his sub-contractors' workers personally, holding their pay packets---and takes a herd of building engineers with him---there is absolutely NOTHING he can have faith in. The workers, who cannot afford to bribe the authorities, will lose every battle. Those societies are founded on fear and bullying, and they will not take kindly to outside intervention in any field.


Stephen Moyse
Cortes Island, British Columbia

 

I am listening with great interest your program on Bangladesh Garment Industry. As a Canadian Citizen of Bangladeshi origin, here is my perspective.

It would be counter productive for western companies to leave Bangladesh. As your commentators have noted, the working condition in Bangladesh leaves much to be desired. However, let us not forget the role  the garment industry is playing in improving living conditions for its workers, predominantly women.

Let this tragedy in Rana plaza be a wake up call for all of us. The answer lies in applying pressure on western companies operating in  Bangladesh to be accountable for improving the working condition in these factories.

Anwar Chowdhury
Ottawa, Ontario

 

On a recent episode of Dragon's Den I watched a bidding entrepeneur attempt to promote a new product by demanding that it be manufactured in Canada.  The Dragons responded with disbelief and each demanded that their participation in developing and sharing in funding the product would depend, completely, on the production happening off-shore.  I wonder how many of the Dragons would re-think their demands after the recent tragedy in Bangladesh - expecially considering one of the Dragons believes that, "greed is good."

George Dart
Toronto, Ontario


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