Garment factory collapse in Bangladesh

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Excellent piece by David Bacon: Laundering the Public Image of Worker-Killing Sweatshops

But the strategy employed by most large manufacturers is not to improve the conditions that kill workers. They are especially unwilling to recognize workers' unions that would act as monitors and enforcers of signed agreements guaranteeing livable wages and safety procedures that wouldn't put lives at risk.

Instead, the big label companies "helped spawn an $80 billion industry in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and social auditing," according to a new report by the AFL-CIO, "Responsibility Outsourced."

"Yet the experience of the last two decades of 'privatized regulation' of global supply chains has eerie parallels with the financial self-regulation that failed so spectacularly. . . " That CSR industry, the report charges, "helped keep wages low and working conditions poor, [while] it provided public relations cover for producers."


19th-century sweatshop hours in the 21st: Workers for Lidl, H&M and Gap in Bangladesh work 15-hour shifts. LIDL doesn't sell everywhere in North America, but it is huge in Europe, and I believe elsewhere.


Excellent documentary entitled "Made in Bangladesh" from CBC's the Fifth Estate.  One note from this is that import duties on Bangladesh were scrapped by the Liberals in 2003 which killed a lot of jobs here and accelerated the race to the bottom by garment manufacturers over in Bangladesh.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The Liberals scrapped the duties as part of the GATT system. GATT and the WTO are now accepted by the NDP as part of their "modern" approach to corporate trade regimes.


Do you have a source for your claim that the NDP no longer supports fair trade measures?  I wrote the leaders about the Bangladesh issue, and did hear back from Harper (who merely told me that my letter was forwarded).  I also heard back from Mulcair who expressed deep concern about the situation and an affirmation of the NDP's commitment toward fair trade.  The NDP is and has always been committed to fair trade and it's silly to suggest that they're no different from the other parties on this.  Here's a link to questions in 2004 that Layton put forward.  Here's their current policy book, which states:

Fighting for fair trade includes enforceable standards on human and environmental rights in all agreements, and in all international trade bodies. Canadian companies operating overseas must also safeguard the rights of workers and local communities.

Here's a statement from the NDP site on it (link).  There's no similar statement on the Liberal site regarding the tragedy in Bangladesh that I could find.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture


When did I say the NDP didn't believe in "fair trade". That is their new line in response to the global full court press being implemented by the corporate world. Mulcair has publicly stated he believes in the WTO and its processes.

Those kinds of organizations have fucked most of the worlds economy and need to be dismantled and a new regime put in place. The idea that a Canadian NDP government could go to the WTO and exert more pressure than the UK and US and the French and Germans and achieve fair trade through the process is at best naive and IMO seems rather disingenuous. Its like the sheep saying we are going to sit down with the wolfs to see what kind of fair menu we can think up for supper.

These deals are never going to be fair and anyone saying they can make them fair is just blowing smoke.


To quote Jack, "Don't let them tell you it can't be done."  You're free to wallow in pessimism all you want.  I feel it's a mistake to perpetually undermine the NDP and its dedication to fair trade.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I have been a skeptic for a very long time. When someone tells me they intend to do something that is highly improbable and mostly not within their control I am skeptical. When they make it a political goal I find it humorous at best.

As for your nasty wallowing in pessimism rant, get a life, people are allowed to think that the NDP is not going to save the world one small step at a time.


mark_alfred wrote:

To quote Jack, "Don't let them tell you it can't be done."  You're free to wallow in pessimism all you want.  I feel it's a mistake to perpetually undermine the NDP and its dedication to fair trade.


kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture


Nice comment Jan.  I can't for the live of me figure why now and again I can't help but poke you a little. Quoting Saint Jack is the ultimate authority on any issue.  Too bad he died and you got a recycled Liberal as your new leader.  Mind you Mulcair often sounds at least as progressive as Dion or Charest.


To bring this back on topic, I'll once again recommend viewing the documentary entitled "Made in Bangladesh" from CBC's the Fifth Estate.  It deals with how things are today over there, and whether any real change has occurred since the factory collapse disaster.  Both Walmart and Joe Fresh are still found to have clothing made in hazardous conditions (largely due to subcontracting).  It's very interesting.