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Turns out that Bangladeshi workers do make choices for themselves outside of theoretical “choices” about working dangerous jobs. In fact, they choose to engage in massive protests after over 250 deaths in the collapsed building this week.

Police inspector Kamrul Islam said the workers had attacked several factories whose bosses had refused to give employees the day off.

“They were protesting the deaths of the workers in Savar,” he said, referring to the town outside Dhaka where Wednesday’s collapse of an eight-storey building housing five garment factories took place, injuring more than 1,000 people.

“Many wanted to donate blood to their fellow workers,” he added.

Some 1,500 workers marched to the Dhaka headquarters of the main manufacturers association, demanding the owners of the collapsed factories be punished.

“The owners must be hanged,” one protester cried, as others tried to lay seige to the headquarters.

Some workers smashed windows and vehicles before they were chased away by police, Wahidul Islam, a deputy commissioner of Dhaka police, told AFP.

I believe the academic term for this is “worker agency.” This is one way workers seek to improve their lives. They choose not to die on the job.

Also of course:

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  • “The owners must be hanged,” one protester cried, as others tried to lay seige to the headquarters.

    Surely it is inappropriate to apply our standards of settling employee grievances to the people of Bangladesh.

    • DrDick

      Everybody knows the proper method of dealing with predatory capitalists is to place their heads on sticks!

      • How could one send pointy sticks to the garment district in Bangladesh?

        (Asking for a friend.)

    • L.M.

      Look, being a capitalist in Bangladesh is dangerous. That’s why they’re paid more.

      • [Buys hat, dons hat, doffs hat]

      • mds

        Harumph.

    • Joseph Slater

      First comment (Shakezula’s) FTW.

    • mds

      Surely it is inappropriate to apply our standards of settling employee grievances to the people of Bangladesh.

      Vice-versa, however, would not merely be appropriate, but long overdue.

      • Anna in PDX

        The 1789 French had the right idea!

        • firefall

          well the 1791 ones anyway

      • Dear me, how uncivil. Why, the lives of civilized people might be lost in that sort of turmoil! Where is my sal volatile?

        [Swoon]

  • DrDick

    Which pretty much destroys the arguments of the apologists for this bullshit. The fact is that there are active labor movements in all these countries which are fighting to improve wages and working conditions. Unfortunately, they face major obstacles. The same oligarchs which own the factories also control the government, which then actively suppresses labor actions (as they have in this case). There is also the problem of the massive poverty which produces desperation in many workers, who are then willing to accept anything to alleviate their current suffering.

    • No, no, no dear chap. You see, the senseless and preventable deaths of more than 300 people have prompted the workers to agitate for change. Ergo 300+ corpses are a good thing.

      At least in theory. You wouldn’t want anything to occur that would improve their working conditions because that would result in a tragic increase in the price of dungris.

    • Barry

      “Which pretty much destroys the arguments of the apologists for this bullshit. The fact is that there are active labor movements in all these countries which are fighting to improve wages and working conditions. Unfortunately, they face major obstacles. The same oligarchs which own the factories also control the government, which then actively suppresses labor actions (as they have in this case). There is also the problem of the massive poverty which produces desperation in many workers, who are then willing to accept anything to alleviate their current suffering.”

      There isn’t a neoliberal apologist who can’t manage to look right through thugs, bribed police and assassinations of workers and see nothing but butterflies and rainbows.

      • Barry

        – sorry, and the Free Market in Glorious Splendor.

  • fledermaus

    “Some 1,500 workers marched to the Dhaka headquarters of the main manufacturers association, demanding the owners of the collapsed factories be punished.”

    Good thing those owners get a risk premium for hazardous work.

    • JKTHs

      +1

  • rm

    Silly Loomis, the only choices that count are the ones made by free individuals making contracts on a free individual basis. As soon as two or more of you are gathered to negotiate on behalf of labor, it becomes a communist dictatorship and is not free.

    • Chatham

      Communist dictatorships are actually libertarian societies. It’s just that one guy, through his own free will, decided to get together with some other people that freely associated with him in order to try to compete with other individuals there. But any individuals that live there are free to try to compete with that group, or go off and start their own if they have the capability to. But I see no reason to punish someone like Kim Jong Un just because he is successful.

    • Barry

      Two or more gathered on behalf of management is, of course, the Free Market.

  • Anonymous

    As a historian of labor, what do you think will happen now?

    If I am not mistaken, in similar situations in the 19th century, the workers would get shot, either by privater contractors or the police or the military.

    • Not much will happen I think so long as American corporations continue to squeeze suppliers overseas and face no punishment for their complicity in these disasters.

      But you never know. Triangle led to concrete reforms in U.S. labor law and regulatory structures. Could have the same effect in Bangladesh, but that would depend on a lot of factors that I couldn’t really analyze since I don’t know much about the country’s politics.

    • And history shows that when totalitarian goons start shooting people to maintain the status quo it never works out for the people who are on the receiving end of the bullets.

      Take India for example.

      Oh. WAIT.

      • The term totalitarian is not applicable to Bangladesh. Despite the existence of corruption and other problems the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh has been ruled by democratically elected officials since the early 1990s without interruption.

        • Strike totalitarian, insert Libertarian. Or Conservative.

          • Bill Murray

            I would go with Inverted Totalitarian from Sheldon Wolin’s work

        • John

          Do you think “totalitarian” applies to the British troops who fired on Indian protesters in Amritsar? I’m not sure how exactly one would characterize the government of the British Raj (well, “imperialist,” obviously, but in terms of the nature of its rule in India), but I don’t think totalitarian is right even in that instance.

    • wengler

      They’ll do what they did when the workers were protesting for 25 cents an hour. They’ll get out the hose trucks and start knocking people down with water.

  • rbcoover

    Slash: Better human being than Matt Yglesias.

    • Karate Bearfighter

      Everyone from GnR is a better human being than Yglesias. Slash cares about Bangladeshi workers, Duff raises money for prosthetic limbs for veterans, and of course, Axl spent over a decade talking about Chinese democracy.

  • Choices – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

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