The deadly Bangladesh garment building collapse has many people saying they would pay more to guarantee safer conditions for workers, but one Montreal retailer says low prices will soon erode consumers' new-found morals.
"I think in one month from now that story will be over and their heart[s] will stop bleeding," said Gilles Fortin, the founder and president of the clothing company, Tristan.
"When they look at the Joe Fresh T-shirt they’ll look only at the price and they won’t remember that some people out there are dying to make your cheap garment."
Fortin spoke with CBC’s Daybreak on Monday about outsourcing.
Outsourcing is the only option
His Montreal-based company outsources about 70 per cent of their stock to China, and Fortin said they don’t have a choice.
"If you want to do something very special and complex, well you don’t have the dexterity to do it here anymore."
He estimated wages for workers in the Chinese manufacturing industry are about one tenth the wages in Canada. A worker in China might get paid about $1.20 an hour, but for the same job in Canada they would earn about $12.00 an hour.
As for the 30 per cent of Tristan’s stock that is still manufactured in Canada, Fortin says it was important for him to keep at least some of the jobs local.
Fortin says twice a year members of upper management visit the Chinese factories they do business with, in order to make sure all the manufacturing, from washing to cutting, is done on-site.
"It’s very easy to get fooled by a China factory ... They will [take] a nice factory, rent it for the weekend when you go, have a nice head office ...You go in the factory everything is clean."
But he adds his staff knows the business and can see through any ploys.