Article 25

Textile Terrorists

In Uncategorized on 06/14/2013 at 2:47 pm


Bodies of garment workers are seen in the rubble of garment factories and shops collapsed in Bangladesh. REUTERS/Stringer

What if people didn’t die for cheap clothes?

By Robert Park

How it Happened: Their random assaults on humanity (usually mostly women) are more reliably predictable than al Qaeda’s and (except for 9/11), much more deadly. The latest big one killed 1,100 women – crushed, suffocated, dismembered and tortured to death in Bangladesh. Seedy entrepreneurs, experts in bribery, feed global corporations their mass-marketed garments dripping in blood and reeking of poverty. Textile workers there earn $37 per month.

Rampant corruption and suppression of elementary worker’s rights make it easy. But the globalists are getting skittish – this could really splash back big-time as consumers get the general drift of their grift. Time to be aggressively pro-active. Some of the big ones – H&M (Sweden), Carrefour (France), Marks and Spencer (UK), Inditex (Spain) – under intense pressure and harassed by global unions, have a plan: Establish a basic code to ensure worker safety in the plants they buy from, and because health and safety-regulation enforcement is missing in action, even legalize the formation of unions! So, in order to play the game of global commerce, Bangladesh and other countries would have to amend their laws and enforcement. Not all corporations are going along with this. Mass mutilation and death haven’t gotten Walmart, Gap, Target or JC Penny to the union table yet. They cite “legal liability,” which simply means they fully expect the new rules not to work – i.e., prevent catastrophic events harming workers – and don’t want to have to pay the consequences.

Creating fundamental improvements in a Third World country that the workers there can defend and expand on is a huge challenge but serious threats to trade can make change happen. It worked in South Africa. Having independent inspectors whom the workers come to trust and communicate with could be a game-changer. Democratic unions would greatly escalate the advance to justice. The fine print in the proposed agreements will determine what can happen. What about sub-contractors? What about enforcement? It’s almost impossible to unionize an employer in this country; union-busting law firms are big business. Can they really get independent unions free of employer or government control in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Honduras, Nigeria?

What if:

a)      in order to get favorable tariffs (“most favored nation,” etc.) from the United States, a country had to comply with U.S. regulations requiring the implementation and enforcement of basic workers’ rights?

b)      the World Trade Organization enforced the same provisions, going after any country cheating on grounds of unfair competition?

c)       there were an international boycott of companies not complying with the rules? Some 900,000 people signed an on-line petition against H&M.

This would achieve the following:

  • Greatly reduce the carnage in cheap-labor havens
  • Begin to level the playing field so America can make things again
  • Expand internal markets in Third World countries.

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