ArticleMay 8th, 2013
Popular Clothing Brands React to Bangladesh Tragedy
Representatives from 40 clothing retailers, including H&M, Nike and Gap, met with the Bangladesh garment association last week to address the labor issues highlighted by the deadly collapse of the Rana Plaza, a large multi-story complex that housed shops and garment factories. More than 650 people died in the April 24 disaster, and the number is still rising.
In Bangladesh, the families of the victims are demanding answers from garment industry executives, who were apparently aware of the plaza’s structural problems beforehand, but did nothing to rectify them.
Bangladesh is a center for the worldwide garment industry. Many American clothing companies have transferred their manufacturing operations from the U.S. to Bangladesh because of its low labor and material costs.
However, with these low costs come major problems, including worker exploitation and unsafe working conditions.
In an op-ed for CNN, Kalpona Akter, a former child laborer in Bangladesh’s garment industry, recalled, “I began working in Bangladesh’s garment industry at the age of 12, making just $3 a month. I went to work because my father had a stroke and the family needed money to cover basic living expenses. I worked 23 days in a row, sleeping on the shop floor, taking showers in the factory restroom, drinking unsafe water and being slapped by the supervisor.”
The latest tragedy is only the latest in a long series of garment factory disasters. Just last November, a fire at a factory that made clothing for several U.S. retailers killed 112 Bangladeshi workers.
Now, U.S. and European brands who rely on Bangladeshi manufacturing are weighing options for the future. Some have promised compensation to workers’ families, and say they are looking into ways to make the industry safer.
This week, PBS affiliate KQED is hosting an interactive chat about fast fashion and the garment industry. Should fashion companies like H&M and Zara be responsible for the manufacturing of their clothing even though they don’t own the factories? What should be their role? What is the role of the consumer? What is the role of government?
Here are a few responses to the discussion so far:
— Luis Cubas(@Ice_CubeBag) May 5, 2013
– Compiled by Allison McCartney for NewsHour Extra
Submit Your Student Voice
Tooltip of RSS content 3
- Deaf artist explores social dimensions of sound
Christine Sun Kim, a sound artist who has been deaf since birth, is creating installations that explore our relationship to sound. Continue readingartsArts & Culturedisability
- Rising Up: the Talladega murals – Lesson Plan and Digital Student Guide
On a moonless night in July 1839, several enslaved Africans unshackled themselves and crept up…artBlack History Monthhistorysocial studies
- Does the law allow businesses to say ‘no’ to same-sex couples?
As same-sex marriage becomes legal in a growing number of states, local governments are addressing a debate between same-sex couples and businesses that do not want to serve them. Continue readingLGBTLGBTQSocial Issuessocial studies
- Black History Month resources for the classroom
Underground Railroad Scene by Hale Woodruff courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Commemorate Black History Month…Black History MonthhistoryraceSocial Issuessocial studies
- What happens when a language dies?
Experts predict more than 3,000 languages will disappear by the end of the century. Continue readingEnglish & Language Artssocial studiesWorldWorld & Geography