News / Asia

    Bangladesh Disaster Calls Attention to Worldwide Garment Industry

    Bangladesh Disaster Calls Attention to Worldwide Garment Industryi
    X
    May 03, 2013 10:31 PM
    The death toll from last week's collapse of a building housing garment factories in Bangladesh now stands at more than 500 and is expected to go higher. The disaster brings attention to the overall problems in garment factories in developing countries. VOA’s Deborah Block gives us a look at the economics of the industry.
    Bangladesh Disaster Calls Attention to Worldwide Garment Industry
    Deborah Block
    The death toll from last week's collapse of a building housing garment factories in Bangladesh now stands at more than 500 and is expected to go higher. The disaster brings attention to the overall problems in garment factories in developing countries. 

    The building collapse comes just five months after a massive fire killed more than 100 people at another clothing factory in Bangladesh.  John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch, says factory owners and the government must ensure buildings are safe.  He believes conditions would also improve if garment workers were unionized and could sue for injury.  

    “Bangladesh has very problematic labor conditions, and part of the reason the workers can be driven so hard to produce good quality product on time quickly is because they don’t have any rights,” Sifton said.

    Pietra Rivoli, a business professor at Georgetown University in Washington, says legislation is needed to change the conditions in Bangladesh.  So is pressure by U.S. retail companies.

    “When it becomes clear that a factory will not get orders unless it’s adhering to certain minimum standards, the factory will start to take notice,” Rivoli said.

    After China, Bangladesh is the world's second largest apparel exporter.  Sifton says Bangladesh pays 3.5 million garment workers some of the world’s lowest wages.

    “They come from a low socio-economic level, and they’re not going to argue too much when you offer them a wage that would never be accepted anyplace else in the world,” Sifton said.

    Those low wages and the ability to produce high-quality apparel are reasons garment factories move from one country to another.

    “China was the dominant force, five or 10 years ago, but wages in China have tripled, and so garment producers find it much more expensive to produce in China.  And so, if all of a sudden it becomes too expensive to pay your workers, then that will be the reason that the production will tend to start to move to lower-cost places.  Vietnam and Bangladesh are examples, Pakistan, India,” Rivoli said.

    Since labor is the single biggest cost, U.S. companies have found it cheaper to use overseas contractors to make garments. That’s why, Rivoli says, American apparel companies don’t own factories.

    “Instead, they place orders through a very complex international supply chain.  Even though we tend to look at the large price difference between the price tag in the store and the pay that the workers get, in fact, there are no parties throughout this whole process that are making a whole lot of money,” Rivoli said.

    Rivoli points out that garment factories often allow industrialization to take root and flourish.  She says it happened in Britain in the 1700s, in the U.S. in the 1800s and in China 10 or so years ago.

    You May Like

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora