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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid