Three Years After Rana Plaza. What Have We Done to Ensure that Our Clothing is Ethically Produced?
At least in terms of Americans, the answer to that question is basically nothing.
The collapse and dangerous and inhumane conditions at other facilities in Cambodia and elsewhere increased public outrage and demands that something be done.
Three years later, it turns out, not enough has been. New reports by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a consortium of advocacy groups and trade unions, say that safety and labor conditions are still lacking in Bangladesh and other countries that produce products for American retailers in shoddy buildings at bargain basement wages.
The reports, which were published in The New York Times, say that tens of thousands of workers still sew garments in buildings without proper fire exits. In Indonesia, India and elsewhere, pregnant women are vulnerable to reduced wages and discrimination. In Cambodia, workers who protested for an $20 a month were shot and killed, the wage alliance reported.
American retailers insist that they are paying close attention to the working conditions in factories they contract with to produce their goods and are attempting to force local owners to fix the problems and treat their workers better. But even the retailers admit that progress has been slow and subject to questionable delays.
Meanwhile, workers at these sweatshops remain in peril.
And this is unlikely to change, because basically we don’t care if people die making our clothing. Or our meat. Or anything else. It just doesn’t matter, so long as the prices are low.