It could have lifted one of the world’s poorest countries out

When change comes to Bangladesh

uk canada goose For two decades, Bangladesh has been the fashion industry’s dirty little secret. uk canada goose

In the competitive world of fast fashion, global canada goose outlet belgium brands and retailers know they can produce a high yield at a low cost if they manufacture in the sweatshops of Bangladesh.

A Bangladeshi woman holds a photograph of a relative who went missing in the canada goose outlet niagara falls Rana Plaza building collapse, as she participates in a September protest in Dhaka. Ahad / The Associated Press)

Clothing retailers answer Star questions about labour practices

Canada Goose online Sudden changes in spring or fall looks from plaids canada goose jacket outlet sale to solid stripes, fitted leggings to worn boyfriend jeans can be turned out quickly by Bangladesh’s estimated four million garment workers, mostly canada goose outlet las vegas women stooped over their sewing machines for long, back breaking days, most earning $39 a month. Penney, Joe canada goose outlet store uk Fresh, Walmart. Open up your closet and chances are you’ll find a piece of clothing with a small tag that reads: “Made in Bangladesh.” Canada Goose online

Western consumers relish the $10 T shirts that make them feel as if they are getting a bargain in a world with few breaks.

Yet fashion comes at a high, and often hidden, price.

Canada Goose sale From 2005 to the Rana Plaza collapse six months ago, at least 1,900 garment workers have died in unsafe working conditions. Canada Goose sale

canada goose uk shop Between 2006 and 2009, 414 garment workers died in 213 factory fires, according to the Asia Monitor Resource Centre and the Bangladesh Fire Service and canada goose outlet in toronto Civil Defence Department. The worst fire came last November, when 117 died at the Tazreen factory. canada goose uk shop

canada goose coats on sale When the illegally constructed Rana Plaza fell, 1,129 died the worst garment industry disaster ever it led to a clarion call for change. canada goose coats on sale

Canada Goose Outlet Everyone the brands, factory owners, government and human rights organizations knew what was going on in Bangladesh, says Peter McAllister, director of the Ethical Trading Initiative. Based in London, the group represents 80 corporate members, including Europe’s biggest fashion producers, non governmental organizations and global unions, with a canada goose outlet uk collective membership of 160 million workers. Canada Goose Outlet

But this time, they could no longer turn a blind eye to the chronic problems bedevilling the garment manufacturing sector in developing countries.

Fear and resistance

Nowhere are the stakes higher than in Bangladesh.

With nearly $15 billion in exports in 2010, fast fashion is Bangladesh’s most important industrial sector, representing 75 per cent of its gross domestic product and total exports, according to a recent McKinsey Co. report.

By 2020, Bangladesh’s garment exports are canada goose outlet expected to hit $42 billion a year. For the country’s powerful the politicians and the factory owners transformational change is viewed with suspicion, fear and resistance.

The arrival of industry in Bangladesh should have been good news. It could have lifted one of the world’s poorest countries out of poverty, and there are signs that it has.

The retailers came looking for cheap labour and found it canada goose outlet washington dc among Bangladesh’s desperately poor and therefore willing workers.

But cheap labour shouldn’t mean exploited labour, says McAllister.

canada goose coats “There is a sort of genuine cost advantage that could be exploited, and then there is the exploitation of that, if you like,” he says. canada goose coats

canada goose clearance sale Garment workers earn a minimum wage of $39 a month, or 3,000 taka. A new minimum wage rate is expected to be set next month. Bangladeshi factory owners believe rates will rise by 50 to 80 per cent and they want retailers to help pay for the hike. The workers are hoping to see their wages canada goose outlet locations in toronto jump to $102 a month. canada goose clearance sale

But past plans for reform failed as soon as the world looked away. Comprehensive building codes and zoning laws are in place but are not followed, McAllister says. Laws governing wages, safety, child labour and union organizing are routinely ignored. Many brands, such as Loblaw and Walmart, hired inspectors and conducted audits but this has, in some cases, fostered double bookkeeping cheating by hiding or faking conditions and bribing officials.

canada goose black friday sale “So you have a chronic set of things going on, into which you insert industry from North America or Europe looking for the best value for their garments, and they’ll negotiate aggressively on that price per piece, delivery dates, quality and so on,” he says. canada goose black friday sale

“Almost every dimension has weakness around it,” says McAllister. “This paints a pretty bleak picture. That doesn’t mean we don’t think some of our members have tried over the years to do the right thing. It is an ongoing battle with the suppliers.”

McAllister’s ETI is a major force behind the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety a binding, five year long legal agreement that promises to improve working conditions. It has been signed by 103 brands, including Loblaw Cos. Ltd., owner of Joe Fresh and the only Canadian corporation.

Earlier this month, the accord published on its website a list of all the factories the brands use in Bangladesh including subcontractors. This information has been rarely collected or shared.

Canadian Brad Loewen has now been appointed a chief safety inspector, and factory inspection reports will be issued.

Another 23 North American brands, including the Hudson’s Bay Co. and Walmart, have formed their own group, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.

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