The High Cost of Low Prices

November 25, 2012 at 11:31 am by: nancy a heitzeg Category: Consumer Rights, Economic Development, Economic Terrorism, Imperialism, International Law, Workers' Rights

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Factory Fire Kills More Than 100 People in Bangladesh, New York Times:

MUMBAI — More than 100 people died Saturday and Sunday in a fire at a garment factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, in one of the worst industrial tragedies in that country…

Bangladesh’s garment industry, the second largest exporter of clothing after China, has a notoriously poor record of fire safety. Since 2006, more than 500 Bangladeshi workers have died in garment factory fires, according to Clean Clothes Campaign, an anti-sweatshop advocacy group based in Amsterdam. Experts say many of the fires could have been easily avoided if the factories had taken the right precautions. Many factories are in cramped neighborhoods, have too few fire escapes and widely flout safety measures. The industry employs more than three million workers in Bangladesh, mostly women.

Activists say that global clothing brands need to take responsibility for working conditions in Bangladeshi factories that produce the clothes that they sell …

Bangladesh exports about $18 billion worth of garments and is a big supplier to companies like Walmart, H&M and Tommy Hilfiger. Workers in the country’s factories are among the lowest-paid in the world with entry-level workers making a government-mandated minimum wage of about $37 a month.

Black Friday Wal*Mart Strike:

In 100 cities across 46 states Thursday and Friday, the protesters were likely to be met by honks and fist pumps from cars as they waved signs and chanted outside Walmart stores. At the Walmart in Paramount, Calif., near Los Angeles, about 600 protesters, including an estimated 100 Walmart workers, turned out Friday morning. In Hanover, Md., 400 store employees, union workers, activists and other supporters showed up at a Walmart Supercenter Friday…

OUR Walmart, the worker organization that is coordinating the protests backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, contests Walmart’s estimates. Nationwide, there have been more than 1,000 individual actions and strikes so far, which is in line with what OUR Walmart projected, according to Dan Schlademan, director of the union’s Making Change at Walmart campaign.

On a conference call Friday, Schlademan said his organization does not yet have a precise count of the number of workers who walked off, as the strikes are ongoing. There have been “hundreds” of workers and “thousands” of supporters so far, he said.

Remembering the 1911 Triangle Factory Fire:

The fire at the Triangle Waist Company in New York City, which claimed the lives of 146 young immigrant workers, is one of the worst disasters since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

This incident has had great significance to this day because it highlights the inhumane working conditions to which industrial workers can be subjected. To many, its horrors epitomize the extremes of industrialism.

The tragedy still dwells in the collective memory of the nation and of the international labor movement. The victims of the tragedy are still celebrated as martyrs at the hands of industrial greed.