Killing workers: business and consumption as usual?

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 5/2/13

On September 16, 2012, I posted “Burning up workers,” beginning:

When a society undergoes disasters, it can learn and change, or not. Our society isn’t so good a changing, at least not for the better, any more….

I really should have written “Our world….”

At the end of that post, I included the earlier post “The 1911 Triangle Fire / PBS / American workers,” ending:

You can bet that more disasters for the all-time high list are in the making.

“Wrenching events,” in the Times’ expression, happen around us all the time today, in fires, shootings, car accidents, environmental disasters, wars, and the steady erosion of our social fabric. Will those too have “a profound influence”? Or is our society totally adjusted to them as a cost of doing business?

There too I could have written “our world.” Enormous disasters are one of the many costs of globalization. If you feel a morbid need to see how bad disasters can get in various fields of human endeavor, check out “List of industrial disasters” in Wikipedia. Disasters have always existed, but they are bigger now, and poor countries are ever more desperate to export products to rich countries.

Those ready-to-burn and ready-to-collapse factories in Pakistan or Bangladesh or wherever else sell clothing to brand name distributors in the US and other economically developed countries.

The September 12. 2012, fire in Pakistan killed over 300 workers. Now, way topping that number, last week’s building collapse in Bandladesh killed over 400, with up to 1,000 still missing. The count could be nearing one full Titanic unit (1502 dead, 4/15/1912).

According to “As Bangladesh Toll Hits 400, Calls Grow to Grant Workers the Same Protections as Labels They Make” at Democracy Now!, 5/1/13:

…The collapse is now being described as the deadliest accident in the history of the garment industry and marked Bangladesh’s third industrial accident in five months. The building’s owner has been arrested, and a Bangladeshi court has frozen the assets of the owners of the five garment factories that were inside. Most of the workers reportedly earned an average annual salary of $38 a month — roughly 21 cents an hour — to make apparel for a number of Western companies….

What clothing brands were involved? …

continue reading at Politics: A View from West Chester


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Filed under Economy, Labor, Tax, Nathaniel Smith

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