The death toll from a factory collapse in Bangladesh has reach 1,127. This is a direct result of workers having little to no power – which is largely the way it has always been when business has been allowed to run amok. Fortunately, the proper combination of the corporate powers that be and government action is forcing needed changes:
everal major Western brands embraced a safety plan that requires retailers to help pay for factory improvements in Bangladesh, where the three-week search for bodies at the site of the world’s worst garment-industry disaster ended Monday with the death toll at 1,127.
The collapse on April 24 of the Rana Plaza factory building focused worldwide attention on the hazardous conditions in Bangladesh’s low-cost garment industry and strengthened pressure for reforms.
Bangladesh’s government also agreed Monday to allow garment workers to form trade unions without permission from factory owners. That decision came a day after it announced a plan to raise the minimum wage for garment workers. Both moves are seen as a direct response to the collapse of the eight-story building, which housed five clothing factories.
Of course, the change from businesses themselves is primarily due to two factors: 1) There is government pressure to do something, so the companies involved want to be active so as to avoid any forced regulations and 2) There is money to be made by quashing negative publicity with the veneer of positive action. Notably, ‘the goodness of their hearts’ and ‘basic ethical considerations’ aren’t really two things that need to be considered here. That’s where government action as supported by a citizenry comes in. Business is rarely interested in it.