Solutions to doing business in Bangladesh


Many Canadians checked the labels on their clothing last week after a Bangladesh factory collapsed, killing hundreds of garment workers. Loblaw plans a relief fund to help some of the workers' families, and its Joe Fresh brand will remain in Bangladesh. We hear what some worker's rights advocates think should happen next.

Panel: Farah Kabir / Eric Olson

"We must do a much better job to ensure the safety of our workers making our products in Bangladesh and around the world. And clearly, as Galen has referenced, our industry can be a force of good. Properly inspected, well built factories play an important role in the development of countries like Bangladesh. The apparel industry is at the forefront of every developing country and as such we have a responsibility. I believe we can do more good and drive lasting change by staying in Bangladesh and we are committed to doing that. " - Joe Mimran, the fashion designer behind Loblaw's Joe Fresh line speaking at a news conference yesterday.

Loblaw executive chairman Galen Weston says he's deeply shaken by the Bangladeshi tragedy. He's promised a relief fund to help compensate workers and their families and also to be agents of change when it comes to the safety of garment workers.

The Joe Fresh brand will continue to employ local workers. The Walt Disney company recently stopped production of its branded merchandise in Bangladesh after a fire at the Tazreen Fashions Factory killed 112 people. And the European Trade Commissioner has raised the possibility of raising tariffs, unless Bangladesh cleans up its act.

In Bangladesh, labour activists watch the Western response warily.

  • RELATED LINK: Taslima Akhter's photo essay on the aftermath of the building collapse

Farah Kabir is the Bangladesh country director for Action Aid - an anti-poverty advocacy organization working to organize the garment workers. On May Day, she spoke at a rally to protest outside a Joe Fresh store in Toronto. She was in our Toronto studio.

And Eric Olson is a Senior Vice President with BSR. He was in San Francisco.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien, Gord Westmacott and Sujata Berry.

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Other segments from today's show:

Relocating outport Newfoundlanders

Reversing the collapse of the honey bee industry

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