Consumers must insist clothing retailers use fair labor overseas

THE ONGOING tragedy in Bangladesh is a moral outrage (“At rubble, hope for survivors wanes,” Page A5, April 30). Hundreds of workers in Bangladesh continue to die in wholly preventable factory fires and collapses because retailers squeeze suppliers into cutting costs to the bone. Workers’ vulnerability leaves them little choice but to work in unsafe, deplorable conditions for unlivable wages. Corporate profits should not be subsidized by workers’ lives. Period.

At least retailers Primark and Loblaw have found the decency to agree to compensate the victims’ families. Other brands like Benetton, Children’s Place, and Mango should follow suit. And moving forward, there is no excuse for any retailer sourcing from Bangladesh to refuse signing on to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, with worker representation.

Without this kind of transparent, legally binding accountability, retailers’ relationship with suppliers and their workers will continue to be an abusive one, and public outcry will only continue to grow. Customers: Ask your apparel company whether they source from Bangladesh and have signed on to the agreement.

Paul Drake

Bangladesh Worker
Solidarity Network