The cost of our cheap clothing

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.

The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:15 am

Something to think about when shopping ...
A string of arrests have been made over the collapse of a factory complex in Bangladesh which has killed at least 363 people, as exhausted rescuers battled to find more survivors among the corpses.

Police arrested three factory owners and two engineers after prime minister Sheikh Hasina vowed those responsible for the country's deadliest industrial disaster would be hunted down. Proprietors Bazlus Samad and Mahmudur Rahman Tapash were detained soon after midnight on Saturday, while Aminul Islam - the owner of two factories based in the doomed building - was arrested Saturday night. They faced preliminary charges of causing death by negligence, police said.

Meanwhile, twenty-nine survivors were pulled from the rubble of the eight-storey Rana Plaza compound on Saturday. The building caved in on Wednesday morning while thousands of garment workers were stitching clothes for Western brands. Emergency workers, gulping breaths of air freshener to mask the stench of rotting bodies, warned their task was getting tougher as survivors were losing their strength to call for help.

"There are many dead bodies but our top priority is finding those who may still be alive," said Mahbubur Rahman, the fire service's director of operations. "There are some survivors. We can hear their feeble cries or hear them talking to each other. Pillars and beams are the biggest problem. Sometimes, even if we can locate survivors, we can't reach them because of these beams. They take a lot of time to cut through."

Thousands of relatives of missing workers massed at the site to watch as bodies were pulled from the debris and laid on a school ground for identification.

More: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-28/arrests-made-as-factory-collapse-toll-passes-360/4655726

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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby plwk » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:54 am

Image The good ole days....
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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Kim O'Hara » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:34 pm

A 'Made in Bangladesh' label on your clothing is cause to be concerned about how it was sourced, aid organisations say.

No more survivors will be pulled from the wreckage of the building collapse in Bangladesh that killed at least 381 people working in garment factories.
The building housed thousands of garment manufacturing workers in the country’s capital, Dhaka, a city containing thousands of similar factories.
These garment businesses supply the world with cheap clothing, and it’s possible an item you are wearing now, or have in your closet at home, was made by one of these workers.
The building collapse is the worst disaster of its kind the industry has seen - but it is not the first. Last year an estimated 112 people died in a factory fire in Tazreen.

More at http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1760986/Made-in-Bangladesh:-A-label-of-concern

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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:03 pm

I wonder which "Western brands" were being manufactured? Maybe a boycott is called for?
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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby philji » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:10 pm

Maybe I am on the wrong track here but here in the UK we know some of the labels....primary, Asda and tesco.however of we boycott these companies could that not lead to factories closing, people losing jobs resorting to begging again.
This is delicates, I am thinking of the interdependent links here.
Maybe pressure put on the companies to play a tougher role in maintaining standards of health and safety in the countries where clothing is produced......
Or is a simple boycott more effective???????
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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Kim O'Hara » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:44 pm

The article linked from my post lists many brands that are imported into Australia and gets responses from company executives where possible - most of whom are happy to identify their suppliers since they have (relatively) strong programmes in place to ensure safety and decent conditions in the factories.
The pressure needs to be applied to the other importers - those who wouldn't respond because, presumably, they don't bother to ensure good conditions. A similar campaign against Nike's Indonesian operations a few years ago had good effects, so it does work. I can't see any way that foreigners can directly affect factory conditions in Bangla Desh (or Malaysia, Thailand, etc).
Brands imported to the EU? I don't know, but the information must be out there somewhere.

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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed May 15, 2013 3:55 am

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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Jainarayan » Wed May 15, 2013 3:32 pm

philji wrote:Maybe I am on the wrong track here but here in the UK we know some of the labels....primary, Asda and tesco.however of we boycott these companies could that not lead to factories closing, people losing jobs resorting to begging again.
This is delicates, I am thinking of the interdependent links here.


I tend to agree with this. Bangladesh and India produce and have always produced some of the best cotton in the world. Macy*s Club Room (private label) line of 100% cotton pinpoint oxford dress shirts, made in Bangladesh, at least rival if not surpass Land's End for the price. Bangladesh is listed as one of the top eleven fastest growing economies. I too would hate to see mass loss of jobs. Moreover, in the US we've had our share of industrial and infrastructure faux pas... the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge (aka "Galloping Gertie"); Union Carbide was an American company that killed and injured 100s in Bopal India; the bridge collapse in Milwaukee (or Minneapolis-St. Paul?); Three Mile Island; I believe the list could go on. No country, rich or poor, is immune to engineering disasters and carelessness. It seems more visible when it's a poor country that we tend to look down our noses at.

Or is a simple boycott more effective???????

Maybe pressure put on the companies to play a tougher role in maintaining standards of health and safety in the countries where clothing is produced......


I think the common, average consumer doesn't know or care. I think the 2nd option is the better one.
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flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Ramon1920 » Wed May 15, 2013 11:36 pm

This world is a zero sum game.
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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Roland » Fri May 17, 2013 7:22 pm

Posted: 3 May 2013
We've all seen the horrific images of hundreds of innocent women burned or crushed to death in factories while making our clothes. In the next few days we can get companies to stop it happening again.

Big fashion brands source from hundreds of factories in Bangladesh. Two brands, including Calvin Klein, have signed a very strong building and fire safety pact. Others, led by Wal-Mart, have been trying to wriggle out of signing by creating a weak alternative that was pure PR. But the latest disaster has triggered crisis meetings and massive pressure to sign the strong version that can save lives.

Negotiations end in days. H&M and GAP are most likely to flip first to support a strong agreement, and the best way to press them is to go after their CEOs. If one million of us appeal directly to them in a petition, Facebook pages, tweets, and ads, their friends and families will all hear about it. They'll know that their own and their companies' reputations are on the line. People are being forced to make *our* clothing in outrageously dangerous buildings -- sign on to make them safe, and share this page widely.


Update: 13 May 2013
Amaaaaazing news! H&M has just committed to signing the far-reaching and enforceable Bangladesh fire and building safety agreement! According to a labour leader, "There is no doubt in my mind that Avaaz played a pivotal role in persuading H&M to embrace the accord." Now let's up the pressure until GAP commits too. We have 48 hours left -- sign and share immediately!


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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri May 17, 2013 11:29 pm

Good to see Avaaz got onto it, great to see them having an impact!

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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Roland » Sun Jun 02, 2013 5:45 am

There was an update a few weeks ago:

Update: 20 May 2013
Huuuuuge victory! H&M signed the Bangladesh safety agreement and our campaign is all over the media, but GAP is refusing to sign up. Let's make sure the CEO knows customers across the world demand our clothes are made in safe conditions. Avaaz will follow-up with ads and other actions to shame the CEO in his hometown. Sign and share the campaign now!


and this news article from a few days ago:

Walmart, Gap Lead Coalition To Create New Bangladesh Safety Pact
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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:33 am

:twothumbsup:

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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Wu-Ji » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:58 am

Phew, just as well I only buy expensive Korean clothing :P
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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Jun 07, 2013 2:46 am

Aussie retailers join the push:
Kmart, Target sign up to safety accord for Bangladesh garment workers
Kmart and Target have become the first Australian retailers to sign up to a safety accord in a bid to improve conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers.
More than 40 global brands have signed up to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety after more than 1,000 Bangladeshi garment workers died when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in April.
The accord allows staff to refuse to work in dangerous buildings and mandates independent building inspections.
Target Australia managing director Stuart Machin says company representatives will visit Bangladesh to meet with factory owners and workers.

Target and Kmart are our equivalents of UK's Tesco, I guess - big, cheap and generic.
More: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-07/kmart-target-sign-up-to-safety-accord-for-bangaldeshi-workers/4739436

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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Thrasymachus » Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:34 pm

There are so many clothes that look perfectly new at thrift stores and the money doesn't support these large slave holders.

But most people will be not be happy until they extinguish as much of the world's resources and as many human lives as they can personally through their shopping. Infact the more they destroy in this way, the better about themselves they pretend to feel.
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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Alex123 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 9:41 pm

This is the problem not only with cheap clothing, but any cheap merchandize.

In order for something to be cheap, it requires among other factors that workers who produce it get paid cheap. This can lead to exploitation of poor people in poor countries, or children.

The other option is to buy expensive things. But not everyone is rich to buy expensive clothes.


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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:06 am

Thrasymachus wrote:There are so many clothes that look perfectly new at thrift stores and the money doesn't support these large slave holders.

:thumbsup:
In fact, the money does good in the world through the charities that run the stores, so we get a double benefit.

Thrasymachus wrote:But most people will be not be happy until they extinguish as much of the world's resources and as many human lives as they can personally through their shopping. Infact the more they destroy in this way, the better about themselves they pretend to feel.

In all fairness, that's not the way they think about it.
They think - because they have been carefully taught to think - "possessing this will make me happy/sexy/loved/smart/famous".
And they do actually feel better about themselves, for a little while at least, when they acquire the consumer goods. But the high wears off quickly and they have to do it all again. Look up "Affluenza" for how it's all engineered by big business.
How can we go about changing this? I think it will be a generations-long project, starting with consumer education in primary schools. That has worked, here in Australia at least, with smoking and sun protection, and the same change is well under way with environmental protection.

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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby greentara » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:29 am

Here in the so called first world with the decline of unions and the proliferation of large corporations, we have Walmart-like wages and working conditions that are becoming the norm.
So if you meddle in places like Bangladesh, sure you can make a difference if we lobby the government but the result may be many people will be thrown out of work and families will suffer.
We want things to change for the 'better' but careful as the results maybe unexpected.
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Re: The cost of our cheap clothing

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:06 am

greentara wrote:Here in the so called first world with the decline of unions and the proliferation of large corporations, we have Walmart-like wages and working conditions that are becoming the norm.
So if you meddle in places like Bangladesh, sure you can make a difference if we lobby the government but the result may be many people will be thrown out of work and families will suffer.
We want things to change for the 'better' but careful as the results maybe unexpected.

You're right, but looking a bit further ahead (*polishes crystal ball*) reduces the surprises a bit.
Our current trade practices are the result of globalisation which in turn is the result of ever-cheaper, ever-faster transport of goods. The process has been under way since the nineteenth century when Britain became the factory of the world, importing raw materials and exporting manufactured goods. Other countries took on similar roles and, increasingly, manufacturing went to low-labour-cost countries - from the UK, Europe and the US to Japan, Taiwan, South Korea in turn. (If you're a baby-boomer you should remember cheap toys from Japan with instructions in Jinglish. If you're not, you may think Japanese goods have always been top-shelf.) Each of these countries benefited in terms of living standards and at the same time priced themselves out of the market. The sequence continues with China, India, Bangla Desh and Indonesia following the same route. Next? Brazil or South Africa? I don't know but I'm sure the sequence will continue as long as the difference in labour costs exceeds the difference in transport costs.
At the same time there is a counter-effect: the richer nations are effectively exporting their (our) own prosperity as they import goods made elsewhere, because the jobs, profits and expertise of manufacturing have all gone overseas. Unemployment rises, wage pressures fall, underclasses emerge ... etc.
Eventually we may reach a point at which labour costs are as low in 'developed' nations as anywhere else and we have reached some kind of equilibrium.
When? 30-60 years, maybe.
Meanwhile, it is on our own best interests to buy local and in the best interests of foreign workers to try to improve their working conditions.

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