JOE FRESH : CONSUMER BOYCOTT

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Gabriel Sinduda
JOE FRESH : CONSUMER BOYCOTT

Please consider taking the FRESH PLEDGE: A citizen's pledge to boycott JOE FRESH consumer products.

You'll find it here:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/FRESH-Pledge/453389264741073?id=453389264741073&sk=info

Gabriel Sinduda

The Boston Marathon death toll has risen to 3. In Bangladesh it has now risen to 300. 

They shut down the city of Boston to bring those suspected terrorists to justice. 

How will we bring to justice those corporations which are responsible for this act of economic terrorism, and so are responsible for this latest tragedy in Bangladesh?

BOYCOTT JOE FRESH NOW. Let's begin to change our consumer habits as our way of bringing justice to this corporation, and all the others that choose to exploit international workers for cheap labour and gross profits.

Please consider taking the FRESH PLEDGE:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/FRESH-Pledge/453389264741073

 

lagatta

Gabriel, I certainly agree. However there is a technical problem with your posting. Your facebook group seems to be restricted to members only. That is, for example, I can't read either the details of the campaign or the pledge. I'm not on Facebook, and refuse to join.

You should either have an open section (look at the Idle No More facebook page, for example) where people can read what is posted without being Facebook members, start up a page on a site that will allow all to post and read, or start up your own campaign site. I'll leave details to the younger and techier here.

Moreover, I think we should go beyond simply not buying Joe Fresh, and think of symbolic actions, letter-writing campaigns, etc. There is a big freestanding Joe Fresh here in Montréal, ironically located in Parc-Extension, a neighbourhood where there are many people of South Asian origin, next to Parc métro station. There is also a big mosque across the street, where most of the worshippers are of South Asian origin. We can think of a dignified and solemn commemoration that is also a call to action and accountability.

lagatta

More on Joe Fresh boycott call: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/canadians-vow-boycott-joe-fresh...

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/26/joe-fresh-boycott-bangladesh-fac...

Ottawa Shitizen opines: "Don't boycott Bangladesh" http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/boycott+Bangladesh/82960...

Huh? An action targeting Joe Fresh, whether it takes the form of a boycott or something else, doesn't necessarily mean wanting no imports from that country - it is calling retail clients to accountability.

flymeetointment

You have on your facebook page a contact website a fucking news article?! I agree with the premise but your not taking it serious enough. Too bad because the workers deserve better.

Slumberjack

Workers might consider a form of politics where one of the objectives is to extract oneself from the work flow.  When people are mired in the production processes I don't know if the term 'worker' as an honorific is still applicable in terms of what the labour is contributing to.

lagatta

And they are supposed to live how?

cormann2

I'm going to superstore to get some more shirts.

lagatta

Proud of that, ability to buy cheap crappy shirts made in deathtrap sweatshops?

Mikal Sergov

I would never suggest doing this, but it's probably something someone somewhere has considered. So don't do it, even though it's very easy and the chance of getting caught is miniscule, please don't do this:

1. Pour some bleech into a sports water bottle

2. Go to Joe Fresh and rub bleech on clothes while examining the goods

3. Leave

4. Repeat

 

flymeetointment

Sounds good Mikail, except video surveillance in 2013 is too sophisticated. Your 4 step method will definitely get someone arrested.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

cormann2 has been shown the door. Nothing more to see here, folks.

flymeetointment

Catchfire wrote:

cormann2 has been shown the door. Nothing more to see here, folks.

And? who cares about a poster who made one lame comment that was mostly ignored until you focused on it. good job officer.

Gabriel Sinduda

lagatta wrote:

Gabriel, I certainly agree. However there is a technical problem with your posting. Your facebook group seems to be restricted to members only. That is, for example, I can't read either the details of the campaign or the pledge. I'm not on Facebook, and refuse to join.

You should either have an open section (look at the Idle No More facebook page, for example) where people can read what is posted without being Facebook members, start up a page on a site that will allow all to post and read, or start up your own campaign site. I'll leave details to the younger and techier here.

Moreover, I think we should go beyond simply not buying Joe Fresh, and think of symbolic actions, letter-writing campaigns, etc. There is a big freestanding Joe Fresh here in Montréal, ironically located in Parc-Extension, a neighbourhood where there are many people of South Asian origin, next to Parc métro station. There is also a big mosque across the street, where most of the worshippers are of South Asian origin. We can think of a dignified and solemn commemoration that is also a call to action and accountability.

Gabriel Sinduda

Hi lagatta, thanks for your advice and ideas. I had no idea that the page was restricted to facebook users--I'm a rare bird on fb myself...agreed--not the bst platform by any means...

Are you a techie? Maybe we could work something out?

I just thought I'd get SOMETHING going...as a start.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Flymeetsointment, your charm is seriously starting to wear off. Is this part of a weekend bender for you? If you can't post without insulting people, I'm afraid you won't even make it til Monday to brag about it. :(

mark_alfred

I'll sign up for this pledge, but I do feel that letters to government demanding better regulation of the garment industry, including imported garments, is also a thing to do.  So, I'll also grab a pen and paper and write both Harper and my MP.  And, letters to MPs are free to send.  The postage is paid for.  Emails are also useful.

Plus, before this tragedy occurred, I had never heard of Joe Fresh.  Apparently they're associated with Loblaws.  So, may make sense to boycott Loblaws too.

flymeetointment

Catchfire wrote:
Flymeetsointment, your charm is seriously starting to wear off. Is this part of a weekend bender for you? If you can't post without insulting people, I'm afraid you won't even make it til Monday to brag about it. :(

I actually have a few posts that are of a non-confrontational nature. Nice trivialization of persons with addictions though occifer. And your petty threats do not concern me, one thing I have learned from 4Chan is that it's the IDEA, not the poster, that should be attacked. Those with an invested identity may be confused but:

We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Yeah, I'm not in the mood. Sadly, "a few non-confrontational posts" doesn't pass muster. Ciao! Enjoy your weekend.

lagatta

Hi Gabriel, no, I'm not techie at all. I work using a computer, but that is it. Perhaps you can ask someone who is how to make part of your Facebook page "public" so people can read that section without belonging to Facebook.

I hesitate even to look at the latest news from Dhaka...

mark_alfred

Retailers feel consumer fallout over Bangladesh factory collapse:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/story/2013/04/26/business-banglade...

Tommy_Paine

Companies like Loblaws (And I don't think they are the worst of them) buy clothes from off shore not just because the cost of labour is as low as it can be without technically qualifying it as slavery, but to avoid any kind of liability from such labour practices.

They feel they can distance themselves by saying "we abide by the laws of Bangladesh",  or feel insulated because they are just an unwitting customer-- heck, just like you and me.

But they put their name on the tag.  What they pretend not to know, they should have known.

Maybe instead of writting our own M.P.'s and other members of "Team No Help", we should be contacting the Bangladesh authorities and helping them with extradition of any Canadians connected to this particular industry?

Tommy_Paine

dp

lagatta

Hi Tommy! Thanks for the advice.

Sineed

Perhaps this event will effect the kinds of changes in safety standards in Bangladesh such as we saw in North America after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. 

I personally don't buy cheap crummy clothing because of bad experiences I've had with disposable fashion - wardrobe malfunctions at work, for instance. But I hesitate to endorse a boycott. These factories have helped raise the standard of living in Bangledesh and a boycott would hurt workers in Bangladesh more than Galen Weston.

Gabriel Sinduda

I am working on compiling more information to share regarding sweatshop labour practices and the ties to international corporations.

In the meantime, please consider liking this facebook page as a pledge to boycott JOE FRESH consumer products.

We have to start somewhere.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/FRESH-Pledge/453389264741073

lagatta

We have to remember that this extreme exploitation of Bangladeshi labour is also on a background of severe environmental destruction; it is one of the countries most threatened by rising sea levels, without the funds the Dutch have to raise higher dikes. Well, the US had the funds, but even there, there was great neglect of the levées in the Gulf Coast region.

This is just the first of many articles that popped up googling Bangladesh: environmental degradation: http://www.profile-of-bengal.com/p-b/www.profile-bengal.com/environmenta... As a result, many farming families have been driven off the land. India has built a huge fence to prevent Bangladeshis from fleeing there (to West Bengal).

The environmental crisis, and the economic crisis in the prosperous West (meaning even Western consumers are seeking cheaper goods) are among many factors in this capitalist crime.

Slumberjack

lagatta wrote:
And they are supposed to live how?

Its true that almost every form of 'work' is bonded to the existing production processes, along with everything it entails.  If we were to begin a search for or to devise a term that would serve to differentiate anti-capitalist work from the type of work legitimized by capitalism, we'd need to search high and low for the examples.  I'm sure they exist in some form.  I might argue that after years of hearing about the abuses of sweat shop capitalism and expecting our democratic representatives to address the concerns once and for all to no avail, shoplifting can be seen as an example of work that incidentally provides the only tangible response against worker exploitation, at least by comparison with the official nothing.  It could be argued that one of the merits of shoplifting is in the fact that it ultimately produces a negative, incremental impact on freedom in the consumerist societies via the introduction of increased levels security and repressive measures, which may serve to render more visible our position within it.

Slumberjack

Sorry lagatta, I was editing the post and so it will appear slightly different than when you read it last.

milo204

http://business.financialpost.com/2013/04/29/shoppers-turn-blind-eye-to-...

"Shoppers turn blind eye to Bangladesh tragedies as cheap clothes win"

the sad part is the only reason people feel the need to buy cheap mass produced crap is because the companies that are selling it to us have so reduced our wages that people are forced to either buy cheap or make do wih less/none.

which (as their market research shows) means people will opt to buy cheap regardless of the human cost.  same with our own labor problems here, same with environmental problems and everything else.  

MegB

What I would suggest to people of limited income, those who would shop for clothes with unethical origins because they cannot afford new clothes otherwise, find a thrift shop that works for you. You might find that those clothes also come from those same places with poor labour practices, but you will not be contributing to the industry beyond what has already been done. You might not find anything fashionable, or even as cheap as something from Walmart or whatever, but you can buy well and buy less.

Unionist

I have serious doubts about turning this into an individual consumer's choice issue - or an individual boycott against a particular brand or company chosen at random out of all the culprits, as is suggested in the OP.

If this disaster happened in Canada, on a serial basis, we would blame the government(s) for not enacting or enforcing safe working and building conditions. We would expect our political parties to demand and achieve legislated minimum protections. In fact, the 1980s saw major gains on that front in Canada through "right to refuse" and similar legislation.

In my opinion, the blame for worker genocide in Bangladesh lies first, with Bangladesh, and second, with Canada. Our demand should be: No imports of clothing from Bangladesh (or prohibitive tariffs - however we decide) unless and until there is satisfactory proof that safety  measures are being implemented and enforced.

We can try to educate consumers as well, and even organize targeted boycotts. But why should Canada allow the import of goods drenched in the blood of workers?

And lagatta, I share your concern for the livelihood of Bengali workers, but we don't have to facilitate murder, any more than we had to facilitate apartheid when countries of the world finally started boycotting South Africa and helped the liberation forces bring that evil regime to its knees.

 

lagatta

That's for sure, but in that case working-class forces in ZA wanted a boycott, even though it meant short-term pain for them. We need more of a dialogue with our comrades in Bangladesh to learn exactly what kind of support working-class organisations want there.

One positive thing is that a lot of people are demanding accountability, to such an extent that Primark and Joe Fresh are at least pretending to offer compensation. So the pressure must be kept up.

mark_alfred

I agree with Unionist on this.  Best to put pressure on government to do something about this situation.  The situation being that it seems that companies can import goods from abroad without any concern of the working conditions from which they source these goods.  Since companies don't seem able to create decent sourcing policies on their own, then government must step in.  So yeah, I'll still try to buy from thrift shops or look for locally produced goods where possible, but I've also written letters to our government about it where I requested a response.  There was also a good link that onlinediscountanvils provided:  What you can do about the deadly factory collapse in Bangladesh

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

While the decline in Canadian textiles started years ago it was in 2005 that the last GATT provisions kicked in and buried the industry for good. No party in the House agrees with tariffs or other measures to protect Canadian industries and workers.

It would be great if we had a regulation requiring certain conditions be meet before clothes could be imported into Canada.  But that kind of measure presupposes we will actually enforce it. The Bangladesh government has rules and regulations that on their face are not too bad but I think I read somewhere there where 18 inspectors for tens of thousands of companies.  In Canada we have seen how well we enforce things like the rules for the Temporary Workers Program or in BC our Employment Standards Act.

I have tried over the years to buy Canadian made products but with "Free Trade" agreements it is getting harder and harder to do that.  Unfortunately there is no political party opposed to them only a consensus on their inherent merit.

Unionist

mark_alfred wrote:

Best to put pressure on government to do something about this situation.

I must have missed your post in [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/labour-and-consumption/garment-factory-collapse-... other thread[/url]. Your letter is great, and the sentiment is right on.

Krop is no doubt correct about where the parties in the House stand on issues of free trade. But I'd rather hold their feet to the fire than try to educate Canadians to individually do the moral thing. It shouldn't be a matter of choice.

 

mark_alfred

I just heard an announcement from Loblaws over the radio.  Here's a link.

Quote:

"Properly inspected, well-built factories play an important role in countries like Bangladesh," Mimran said. "Recent events have shown we should be auditing for building standards, something that has never been done before."

Mimran pledged that any garment made for the Joe Fresh line will be built in a facility that respects local building codes, as well as labour laws.

That, I feel, is a better response than Disney's, who claimed they were just going to leave Bangladesh.  Both business and government should take responsibility for the welfare of their workers/citizens and the workplaces and communities in which those workers exist.

mark_alfred

Hmm, time for a second thought from my post above.  If workers in Bangladesh don't have the right to refuse unsafe work, then the number of audits done by Joe Fresh may not make a difference.  So while it's good that Loblaws Joe Fresh is talking openly about this and willing to have people on the ground doing audits of the workplaces there, perhaps Disney is correct to just declare it an unworkable situation and leave.  Of course, does simply leaving help workers in Bangladesh achieve better conditions?  Hard to know.

DaveW

Sineed wrote:

 But I hesitate to endorse a boycott. These factories have helped raise the standard of living in Bangledesh and a boycott would hurt workers in Bangladesh more than Galen Weston.

I agree completely.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I usually go with what the workers in any country are saying through their organizations.  So I supported the boycott of South Africa because it was called for by the locals fighting the apartheid regime. I also support the boycott of Israel for the same reason. So far I have not heard what the workers in Bangladesh want.

However I find the idea that low paying dangerous jobs in third world countries lift people out of poverty to be just ridiculous. The workers there get used up and thrown into a dumpster when they can no longer work the grueling hours and keep up with the body, mind and soul destroying pace set by their "liberating" corporate masters.

DaveW

so let's listen to what Bangla workers' organizations say, eh?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Indeed and so far I have not heard them calling for a boycott. However I always try to avoid buying stuff form the worst of the bad countries so I have never really bought stuff from Bangladesh given the numerous accidents at plants there over the last number of years. Anyways it is hard to boycott what you don't normally buy.

lagatta

I don't think I've ever bought anything from Bangladesh, but alas I certainly have stuff from other low-wage countries. Often it is simply impossible to find reasonably-priced clothing (and I don't mean Joe-Fresh dirt-cheap) from here or other countries that at least supposedly have decent labour standards. And even a "Made in Canada" (or other country with some labour standards) label is no guarantee against sweatshops. Moreover, it can be affixed if something as small as sewing the buttons or a decorative patch is done here.

I'm not at all a recreational shopper, but we do have to wear clothes in this climate, eh?

Sweatshop work uses people up much more than it improves their standard of living or their children's, but Bangladesh was suffering extreme environmental degradation and people simply could not work the land as they did beforehand... Yes, the corporate vultures pounced on that desperate situation. But leaving the workers with no work is problematic too.

Kropotkin, where do you buy your clothes? Have you found a sustainable source?

6079_Smith_W

I am sure we have all bought stuff from Bangladesh. It may not be on the label, but the fabric could easily have come from there. And if not, it most certainly came from a place where the next tragedy may occur.

And in any case, the solution is not to try and wall it off like some plague-infested household.

I get the intent, but in a global economy it is impossible to try and contain stuff like that. I agree with Unionist's analysis at #31 even if I don't agree entirely with the solution.

I don't have a problem with boycotts, or pressuring companies to do their due diligence, even though I'm not convinced that is the right tactic here. After all, we are talking about a failure of building codes, which is a bit more nebulous than barring windows or employing underage workers.

But to claim that we are disconnected from this system? Good luck there. If it isn't in your shorts it is probably in your cup of coffee (don't forget the sugar), your gas tank, or your supper plate. We are all involved.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I don't buy many clothes these days, I'm retired and thus don't need to. I look first at the quality and buy shirts and pants that are still made from quality cotton.  Then if I have a choice I choose Canadian made. After 2005 when the GATT provisions destroyed the last remnants of our textile industry it has been very hard to find any Canadian made stuff. Occasionally I find some things at Mark's that are either Canadian or American sourced and they have the big sizes that I require. That is the other thing about boutique clothes they most often do not come in the large sizes I need. Clothes hopping for me has actually become a moral dilemma and since I never liked shopping to begin with I now avoid it until absolutely necessary.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I don't have a problem with boycotts, or pressuring companies to do their due diligence, even though I'm not convinced that is the right tactic here. After all, we are talking about a failure of building codes, which is a bit more nebulous than barring windows or employing underage workers.

It was not a just a failure of building codes. The workers were told to leave the factory because it was unsafe and the companies that they worked for told them they couldn't. Of course if they wanted their families to be without the meager pay check they might have been able to quit and walk away but that is not a choice that is indentured servitude. I think most people understand that as a Hobson choice.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

There were activist speakers from the Toronto Bangladeshi community at the May meeting of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council. Toronto's Bangladeshi community is growing and is largely concentrated in the area close to Victoria Park and Danforth.

They said that while they are looking for solidarity in the struggle, boycotting goods from Bangladesh is not one of the actions they are asking for.

There are concerns about the multinational firms packing up and leaving Bangladesh because of the controversy and then relocating to some other country where the exact same thing will happen all over again.    They want the industry (which employs over three million workers in Bangladesh) to stay and improve wages and working conditions.

So I think that it's important to be sensitive to what the unions and civil society organizations in Bangladesh want us to do.

For example the call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel came not from outside the region, but rather from Palestinian civil society organizations.

Now targetting Joe Fresh (as opposed to Bangladeshi goods) for a boycott might be a useful thing to do so that we pressure them to take responsbility for what has happened in Bangladesh.    It would be worthwhile to talk to Bangladeshis about this.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I find the media portrayal of the Bangladesh capitalists who put the lives of people at risk for profit very different that the portrayal of US capitalists who were responsible for the Texas explosion that took many lives.  In Texas they put a dangerous plant into an area surrounded by homes and were negligent in its design and maintenance. As well they didn't even pay for proper insurance so it seems that as in Bangladesh the victims may not get compensated either.  No one in Texas seems to be even calling for criminal charges against the owners let alone the death penalty. White capitalists killing people negligently is an accident Bangladesh capitalists doing the same thing is criminal.

Quote:

“The bottom line is, this lack of insurance coverage is just consistent with the overall lack of responsibility we’ve seen from the fertilizer plant, starting from the fact that from day one they have yet to acknowledge responsibility,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he expects the plant’s owner to ask a judge to divide the $1 million in insurance money among the plaintiffs, several of whom he represents, and then file for bankruptcy.

He said he wasn’t surprised that the plant was carrying such a small policy.

“It’s rare for Texas to require insurance for any kind of hazardous activity,” he said. “We have very little oversight of hazardous activities and even less regulation.”

On April 17, a fire at the West Fertilizer Co. in West, a town 70 miles south of Dallas, was quickly followed by an earth-shaking explosion that left a 90-foot wide crater and damaged homes, schools and nursing home within a 37-block blast zone. Among those killed were 10 emergency responders.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/attorney-texas-fertilizer-plant-t...

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Maybe instead of a boycott we should be starting a solidarity fund to help the workers organize and fight against the capitalists who at this point have the upper hand.  The best hope for workers is the same in every country. 

Quote:

The collapse of the building in Savar, Bangladesh, a suburb of Dhaka, on April 24, which killed hundreds of textile workers (the exact number is still to be determined, but it’s well over 400), is tragic testimony to that fact.  While one’s first impulse is to write off those Bangladeshi mills as Third World shitholes—low wages, teenage workers (mainly girls), long hours, deplorable conditions—it should be noted that they’re probably no worse than American textile mills of a century ago.

It’s true.  American mills of the late 19th and early 20th century were horrendously grim enterprises, dangerously cramped, poorly lighted industrial dungeons, something straight out of a Dickens’ novel.  Of course, today’s factories (at least the ones that haven’t been shipped overseas) are bright, clean and relatively safe.  So what happened?  What caused those New England textile mills of a century ago to improve themselves?

Do we credit our politicians?  Were these improvements the result of changes in state and federal laws?  Or was it the Church who, having seen enough degradation, finally chose to intervene?  Or perhaps it was an outcry from the general public, demanding that workers (even young immigrant women) be treated humanely?  Answer:  None of the above.  It was the rise of the American labor movement that made it possible.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/05/03/why-workplace-accidents-happen/

onlinediscountanvils

[url=http://qz.com/83804/it-would-only-costs-an-extra-25-cents-in-clothing-pr... would only add 25 cents to clothing prices to have safer conditions in Bangladesh[/url]

Quote:
just how much more expensive would our clothes get if factories in Bangladesh were safer?

There aren’t many clear-cut studies on the matter because it would depend on how much the retailers passed on the price increases to customers, as opposed to taking a hit to profit margins. Scott Nova at the Worker’s Rights Consortium, a Washington, DC-based advocacy group, made this calculation:

We have a general cost estimate for the renovations, upgrades and retrofitting of buildings that is needed across the industry in Bangladesh to make the factories safe. The figure is $3 billion. That translates to about 8 cents per garment at factory price.

That $3 billion, Nova says, would go toward properly constructed fire exits and fire escapes, emergency lighting, proper alarm systems, electrical rewiring, closure of structurally unsound buildings, and the relocation of factories to safe structures.
The impact to retailers’ profits, he argues, would be minimal:

For a major retailer, with 5 percent of its production in Bangladesh, which is typical, the increased cost would be about four one-thousandths of a percent of total corporate revenue.

onlinediscountanvils

I'm sure there's still more work to be done on this issue, but it's important to recognize and celebrate the victories.

[url=http://en.maquilasolidarity.org/node/1128]Statement from the Maquila Solidarity Network on Joe Fresh signing Bangladesh Accord[/url]

Quote:
The Maquila Solidarity Network welcomes the precedent-setting announcement by Loblaw Companies (owner of the Joe Fresh brand) that it has joined more than a dozen leading international apparel brands and retailers in signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh with the Global Unions IndustriALL and UNI and Bangladeshi unions.

Quote:
This Accord sets out a program of independent and transparent inspections, an informed and active role for workers and trade unions, health and safety training for workers and management personnel, effective health and safety committees, and the right of workers to file complaints and to refuse unsafe work. It is backed by time-bound remediation plans, effective dispute resolution procedures, and real repercussions for suppliers that refuse to improve conditions.

Most importantly, it has the support of large international retailers and brands, as well as the trade unions on the ground and internationally. The International Labour Organization is supporting the agreement and will play a role in its implementation.

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