Live NH election results:
Editorials

editorial

Garment industry in Bangladesh: Retailers must add to pressure

IDEALLY, THE proliferation of clothing factories in low-cost Bangladesh should benefit not just global consumers who want cheap clothes, but also Bangladeshis seeking better pay and conditions than they can get in rural villages. This can only happen if the country’s government pushes factory owners keep workers safe. After a factory collapse earlier this year killed more than 1,100, the Obama administration announced it would suspend Bangladesh’s duty-free trade privileges and outlined steps — from building inspections to an end to union suppression — that the country must take to get them back. While the pressure from the US government is appropriate, Bangladesh’s leaders are more likely to listen if American retailers wield their clout as well.

Despite being in the global spotlight, many of Bangladesh’s 5,000 garment factories remain dangerous for workers. So far, European retailers have led the way in assuming new responsibility to invest in worker safety and hold factory managers accountable. Retailers H&M and Zara and brands Benetton, Helly Hansen, and Puma are among 70 companies that recently finalized a legally-binding plan to inspect all the factories making their products within nine months and contribute funds for needed renovations.

Only a handful of major American brands are part of that pact, including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Sean John, and Abercrombie & Fitch. The biggest US stores have refused to sign the accord out of fears of becoming legally liable for factory conditions. Instead, the likes of Walmart, Gap, Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s, and J.C. Penney have announced a commitment of $42 million for worker safety and inspections over the next five years and more than $100 million in renovation loans to Bangladeshi factory owners. But that plan has no binding commitments, leaving labor-rights groups concerned American retailers will walk away from it when the media spotlight dims. Doing so would be a mistake, because major US retailers should be concerned with the treatment of the workers who make their clothes.

Loading comments...
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.