Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pardon the skepticism but if you trust the retailers you're in for disappointment!

In this photo a child consoles her mother waiting for the recovery of family members from the rubble of Rana Plaza. With photos like this circulating the globe, & with 1,127 people now confirmed killed in Rana Plaza, along with considerable political unrest, the government of Bangladesh & garment retailers are in full damage control mode. After years of violently suppressing unions, the government is coming up with all sorts of labor & safety legislation & politicians are talking like a tag team of Eugene Victor Debs & Mother Jones. Many retailers are falling over themselves to sign a fire & safety agreement called “legally binding” & giving chump change donations for safety measures in the sweat shops. Legally binding, my ass! The US has labor laws up the wazoo but getting them enforced is another matter altogether & is often in labor tribunals that are little more than kangaroo courts for workers. Pardon the skepticism, but while many consumer & labor groups laud this action, the corrective measures probably may not be worth a rat’s patoot in the long run. Overcoming the sweatshop system will require massive coercion on the part of working people, not phony largesse by the exploiters.

The more likely scenario is the one announced by some retailers of high-tailing it out of Bangladesh--of course, in search of sweatshops without safety oversights, with dirt poor pay, without international labor activists sniffing around, & without all the world attention exposing their barbaric exploitations.

The workers of Bangladesh should not have to pay for these crimes; they’ve paid far too much already in what is called one of the deadliest accidents in the history of the garment industry. The damage controls are a way to allay our concerns, to make us go away & move our attentions to one of their other catastrophes. So this is the time to keep the screws on, to keep the pickets up at department stores, to have forums and teach-ins exposing the labyrinth of international sweatshop production, & to accelerate our work demanding no sweatshops, no child labor, prosecute those involved in this atrocity--including government officials & retailers.

(Photo by Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images)

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