Flee Sweatshops or Stay and Change Them ??

BangladeshAddress the Real Challenges. Some have praised Disney’s decision to pull out of Bangladesh as a step forward for workers’ rights. It’s not. A senior Disney executive justifies the company’s action by asserting that pulling up stakes in Bangladesh is “the most responsible way to manage the challenges associated with our supply chain”. But Disney’s departure does nothing to address real challenges, which require a commitment by the big global brands to stay in places like Bangladesh and be part of a collective effort to protect the well-being of factory workers. Ask the workers in those factories, mostly young women, what they want. They will tell you two things. First, they want to keep their jobs, desperately. Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the rapid expansion of the garment sector in recent years has put food on the table for many, lifting families out of extreme poverty. Second, they want to be treated with DIGNITY, which begins with going to work in a quite safe and secure environment. To address these reasonable aspirations, global brands like Disney need to do 3 things: Make a long-term commitment to provide jobs in places like Bangladesh and accept the responsibility for addressing the workplace issues in factories producing their products; Commit to working with other global brands to develop shared strategies and accepted best practices. This is not the place to compete, it’s the place where companies need to work together; Disney, in cooperation with megabrands, needs to work with governments (including our own), civil society groups, academics, others, to explore alternatives to the current outsourcing model. Driven by the hunt for the cheapest production costs, this model creates intense downward pressures on local factory owners, governments, and limits rather than encourages needed reforms.

Room For Debate: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/05/02/when-does-corporate-responsibility-mean-abandoning-ship


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

4 Responses to Flee Sweatshops or Stay and Change Them ??

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: In my opinion, Michael Posner has the correct approach to deal with the Bangladesh tragedy. My experience of 30 years in economic development in Latin America shows that labor rights can only be addressed by the political process in each country. External pressure can help but it cannot replace a domestic agenda of reform. Domestic politics plays a fundamental role in explaining the lack of labor laws. A small and greedy ruling elite is obviously not interested in laws protecting slave work. In countries like Bangladesh or North Korea, labor laws and human rights are not respected.


  2. Ever since a building with garment factories collapsed in Bangladesh last week, killing more than 400 people, Western apparel companies with ties to the country have scrambled to address public concerns about working conditions there. Benetton repeatedly revised its accounts of goods produced at one of the factories, while officials at Gap, the Children’s Place and other retailers huddled to figure out how to improve conditions, and some debated whether to remain in Bangladesh at all. At least one big American company, however, had already decided to leave the country — pushed by the last devastating disaster, a fire just six months ago that killed 112 people. The Walt Disney Company, considered the world’s largest licenser with sales of nearly $40 billion, in March ordered an end to the production of branded merchandise in Bangladesh. A Disney official told The New York Times on Wednesday that the company had sent a letter to thousands of licensees and vendors on March 4 setting out new rules for overseas production. Less than 1 percent of the factories used by Disney’s contractors are in Bangladesh, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The company’s efforts had accelerated because of the November fire at a factory that labor advocates asserted had made Disney apparel. The Disney ban also extends to other countries, including Pakistan, where a fire last September killed 262 garment workers. Disney’s move reflects the difficult calculus that companies with operations in countries like Bangladesh are facing as they balance profit and reputation against the backdrop of a wrenching human disaster. Bangladesh has some of the lowest wages in the world, its government is eager to lure Western companies and their jobs, and many labor groups want those big corporations to stay to improve conditions, not cut their losses and run. But as the recent string of disasters has shown, there are great perils to operating there. “These are complicated global issues and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution,” said Bob Chapek, president of Disney Consumer Products. “Disney is a publicly held company accountable to its shareholders, and after much thought and discussion we felt this was the most responsible way to manage the challenges associated with our supply chain.” The public disclosure of Disney’s directive came two days after officials from two dozen retailers and apparel companies, including Walmart, Gap, Carrefour and Li & Fung, met near Frankfurt with representatives from the German government and nongovernment organizations to try to negotiate a plan to ensure safety at the more than 4,000 garment factories in Bangladesh. With 3.6 million garment workers and more than $18 billion in apparel exports last year, Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China (…..)


  3. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: The poor are making progress in Bangladesh. In the 70s, George Harrison of the Beatles sponsored a mega rock and roll concert to raise money and fight a massive famine taking place. Today, the poor (most women) are not dying of hunger but of fire or crumbling buildings in their working place. Stop buying products (clothing) made by the poor is the WRONG answer to the tragedy occurred. The poor working women and their children will be submitted to further suffering. The EU has the correct approach to improve working conditions in the country. It combines threats (revoking trade benefits, quotas) in exchange for improvement in working conditions. It can work because it hits the pocket of clothing factory owners and politicians bribed by them. The last tragedy in Bangladesh reveals a naked truth. The ruling political and business elite treats the working population (particularly women) as slave labor. No mercy no kindness whatsoever. The solution for slave work in Bangladesh is not a primary responsibility of western consumers. Any solution lies with the small ruthless, greedy ruling elite, particularly clothing manufacturers. They need (negative) incentives from the West. For example, freeze overseas bank accounts of businessmen and politicians, starting with Madam Prime Minister, and prohibit them of entering the EU for vacation. The working labor conditions in Bangladesh will be solved ASAP.


  4. (…..) Some suggest that governments do not enforce laws because they lack the capacities to do so. We should provide aid and assistance so that governments can enhance their regulatory capacities. This is a dubious argument: government inspectors do not need capacity enhancement to issue citations when they see cracks in buildings, fine firms which block fire exits with heaps of unfinished garments, or cram workers in windowless rooms. A focus on capacity instead of corruption diverts attention from the main issue. So what might motivate governments to rein in corruption, and enforce their own laws? After all, corruption serves the interests of the political elites (…..) Corrupt political systems create conditions for industrial tragedies, not the presence of global brands. Scapegoating global brands will not help improve the working conditions of the labour force. Global brands must not leave Bangladesh; they must stay and use their economic leverage to improve working conditions. As our research shows, improvements in export-oriented sectors can eventually spill over to other sectors of the economy.



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