One-eyed criticism of garments’ accidents in Bangladesh
Global rights groups, activists, apparel industry and accord seem to beat Bangladesh for its lower standard of safety for not only in garment sectors but also in other manufacturing and linkage industries. I personally appreciate monitoring approaches of these alliances all over the country. Owners and management are becoming more cautious nowadays and our garment industry is experiencing better working and safety condition for workers. For which in Bangladesh, we haven't experienced any major collapse or fire incident in recent years after Rana plaza and Tajrin fashion accidents.
The US giant Walmart has stopped taking supply of garment products from more than 250 factories of Bangladesh. Other big brands are also taking these kinds of serious steps against factories in Bangladesh. Thousands of poor workers are losing their jobs and factories which already finished packaging are incurring huge loss due to this sudden decision. These bans are impacting on Bangladesh's economy directly and indirectly.
“But the question is how many big headlines the world has seen regarding these news? How many alliances were created to make better working conditions in these countries? Can we compare the scenario on activities, news headlines, restrictions and the criticism Bangladesh had after Rana Plaza tragedy? Does it sound 'double standard' to you? Some critics criticized that propaganda is going on against Bangladesh's image at greater level. Some also claimed regional and international politics are going on to destroy Bangladesh's leading exporting items.”
But, the question arises when we see similar or even more devastating occurrences happening in other developed and developing countries and the global rights groups are silent or not raising their voices so loud. Last week at least 79 people were dead in a tragic fire in Grenfell Tower, UK. In last week, there were at least six major factory fire accidents all over the world. On Friday, a worker was trapped in a fire in Chanhua city, Philippines. Same day in Blackpool; UK, refrigeration equipment factory accident took place. People died in a plastic factory in Taus, Singapore. Three kids were burnt alive and four were critical after LPG gas pipe leakage in India. More than 30 people were injured in Delhi from an explosion. 4 people were dead and 17 were seriously injured in Lima, Peru at a hardware factory.
According to the labour ministry of Vietnam (one of the competitor of Bangladesh's garment industry), there were 120000 to130000 workplace accidents from 2005 tp 2010, killing around 12000 people. In 2012, a fire at a garment factory in Pakistan killed more than 300 people. In 2014, china has seen two deadly factory fires: one at a shoe factory that killed 16 people, another at an underwear factory that killed 11 and seriously injured 15.
All these are the snapshot from the long list of accidents. But the question is how many big headlines the world has seen regarding these news? How many alliances were created to make better working conditions in these countries? Can we compare the scenario on activities, news headlines, restrictions and the criticism Bangladesh had after Rana Plaza tragedy? Does it sound 'double standard' to you? Some critics criticized that propaganda is going on against Bangladesh's image at greater level. Some also claimed regional and international politics are going on to destroy Bangladesh's leading exporting items.
Reddy, ILO director in Bangladesh, said, "Some people felt like, why everyone is focused on Bangladesh when there are a lot of other exporting countries that do not meet international standards?'' Theresa Hass, Communications Director at the workers right consortium, said, "There is no reason why the accord or a non accord-like structure couldn't be put into place in other countries, although it does of course depend on retailers' willingness to make commitments outside of Bangladesh."
I am not saying there is no need of these global rights or the alliances those are currently active in Bangladesh. Of course, the country need all of these to maintain a sustainable development and creating a better working conditions for employees. But, similar steps should be taken in other countries as well. Have you heard much criticism about Vietnams, Cambodia, Pakistan, India or even Russia's (major competitors of Bangladesh for garment industry) root level working conditions? The treatment should be same for all or at least there mustn't be any double standard. I completely agree with Tara Donaldson, a staff reporter of Sourcing Journal, who shared, "Fire safety isn't only a problem of Bangladesh, it's a global problem. Let's face it, go forward and create a better world."
The writer is a post-doctoral research fellow, Wuhan, China