Monday, May 6, 2013

How do we support Bangladesh garment workers?

Most important image to emerge from the Bangladesh factory collapse (death toll 580 as of yesterday with little sign of what the final number will be, according to the Guardian website) isn't of bodies, or the collapsed building, but the protests demanding justice for the fatalities and enforcement of safety codes. This Guardian video captured the Dhaka May Day rally.

The question is what solidarity action should we in the west take in support of these Bangladeshi workers? That’s not an easy one. Brands needs to be pressured to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement and work with trade unions to improve workplace safety.

Boycott Primark and other brands? No says this New Internationalist blog. In response to a boycott, brands may cut production or pull out of factories, leading to the loss of jobs, garment workers struggling to feed their families and being unable to send their children to school.

If you're looking for the inevitable online petition, The Clean Clothes Campaign has one.

Labour Behind The Label has a lot of advice about “where should I shop” but I'm afraid that worthy though it is you'll be more confused when you’ve read it than you were before.

Sending money to the Bangladeshi unions or the organisers of the big rally in the Guardian video seems a good plan but I haven't found out yet just where it should be sent. All very unsatisfactory.