Saturday, May 11, 2013

Benetton’s Bangladesh Bungle

Global clothing giant Benetton admits it's linked to a Bangladesh garment factory that collapsed last month, killing almost 900 people.
However, rather than being shamed into finding more ethical clothing suppliers, Benetton still plans to stay in Bangladesh (thus supporting sweatshops)! 
The death toll from the factory collapse reached 892 – it's not known how many more remain buried under the rubble. More than 2,500 were dug out alive in the days following the disaster. CEO Biagio Chiarolanza said one of their Indian suppliers had subcontracted two orders of about 200,000 shirts to the death-factory. But he says the solution to the safety issues is not to abandon Bangladesh: "I really believe international brands can help these countries improve their condition. But we need a safe and happy working environment and better conditions."
Benetton was heavily criticised after the collapse and accused of paying sub-poverty level wages. It says it'll now add more checks when assessing factories. The owner of the building only had permission for a 5-storey structure and there's speculation that his exceeding that by three stories was the cause of the collapse. Bangladesh has closed 18 clothes factories in recent days for failing to meet work and safety standards.
This is not the first time global garment giants have been embroiled in third-world debacles (see Dec.2010: Dieing To Work For GAP)…and they seem all too willing to remain there – NOT to improve standards, but to milk the dirt-cheap labour costs for all they're worth!
The 'safe and happy working environment' wanted by CEO Chiarolanza cannot be bought by the blood of impoverished sweat-shop workers.
Surely only a withdrawal by these big companies will force the bar to be raised, and make the Bangladesh govt enforce higher standards on its clothing industry, if it wants global investment to return.
As we know, money always talks loudest...

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