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Fernando Jiménez

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What conclusion should we made from the deadly collapse of a factory in Bangladesh?

I used to ear that we live on a global world, that all of us are interconnected, but this connections are not two-ways, the first world it´s just interested in one-way, rejecting the other.

What kind of controls do we have about the labor condictions of the people who woks for us in the third world?

What the ONU do about that?

Does the market punish companies that abuse of poor people?

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  • May 16 2013: Fernando,
    as it so happens, the tragedy in Bangladesh hit close to home for me.
    I used to work for a big company that had its clothing produced in this factory. While I worked there, I was confronted by the appalling conditions in which these people worked (and other factories around the world). When I considered how well taken care of I was, as a member of the EU with all the benefits and privileges that came with it, it upset me even more. The longer I worked there, the more disgusted I became with the whole thing, and finally, I left the company.

    When I heard about the disaster in Bangladesh, a part of me was horrified, and another part of me was actually not surprised at all. I knew about these horrible conditions. It wasn't the first time something like this has happened, and I fear, it won't be the last.

    It is a complicated problem!

    As soon as suppliers invest more money in the improvement of working conditions, or even minimum safety requirements, the prices of their garments go up in order to cover the costs. The problem then, is that companies like the one I worked for will have their garments made elsewhere, where the conditions are still poor (read: dangerous), but where the prices are still 'dirt cheap' and they can assure themselves of a gigantic profit.

    The profit has to be enormous, otherwise it's just not worth it. When my department was told that our designs had made a profit of 'only' 5 million that year, we were told that we had failed. Truly shocking. Any lawsuit the company had going (believe me, there were several at a time), they won with ease because they had the money to hire the best lawyers.

    So, where does the solution lie?
    I feel, it lies with the consumer. If consumers are willing to pay a bit more, then the problem is more or less on its way to being solved. Sadly, people are just as concerned about money, and want the most for the least amount.
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      May 16 2013: Good thoughts!
      But I am not sure that if consumer are willing to pay more will ensure minimum safety level for the poor works or a bit higher wage to poor worker.
      That extra money from consumer I feel will only fatten the profit margin of either the global garment giants or local manufacturers.
      Sorry , if I sound too pessimistic but that's what my observation with our current market model.
      Thanks for your thoughts and action.
      • May 16 2013: Salim,
        I don't think your view is pessimistic, in fact, I agree... it would be 'too easy' for the corrupt hands to simply pocket that money...
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        May 16 2013: I think your point is valid, Salim. I do think consumers would be willing to pay more, but it is unclear whether the extra would ever make it down to worker safety or simply enter the pocket of the person running the factory- who had been warned by local authorities of the need to make the building safer. It just wasn't enforced.

        My eldest child is in her mid-twenties and told me a few days ago that she had read that paying ten cents more per item would cover the costs of the building safety measures that were at issue.
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          May 17 2013: Fritzie, the great awareness of your daughter , this discussion here etc, may not be statistically significant to draw so called valid conclusion about consumer desires to any market researcher , but to me it's a clear indication about consumer desire , which is a good news .

          Couple years back in a meeting , one of my European Colleagues as knew , I am from Bangladesh , came to me to be introduced. After small chat he , asked me whether I can tell the Jeans brand he is fond of uses any child labour or not in their production line ? He asked me as he saw in the label of recently bought jeans pairs being manufactured in Bangladesh. Asked, what he will do with that information, the reply was if there is any involvement of child labour , he will stop buying that brand in future. was amazed with the answer thinking how knowledgable and conscious of today's consumers are !!!

          May be someday one or the other Garment Retail Giant will leverage this consumer insight as their competitive edge and the other will follow later. If that happens that may garuntee consumer money flowing to the right end to ensure safety and bit better wage for the workers.

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