The International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF) in its report titled Deadly secrets has revealed a shocking trend among clothing brands and retailers. Although they conducted factory audits they did not bother to share their vital findings with apparel manufacturing companies in the exporting countries. They did not warn government agencies or workers about the imminent dangers posed by the working environs in the factories.
All they did with the auditing results was to cease business with factories to safeguard their brand reputation and image rather than reveal the horrific secrets and tell workers about risks they face.
Furthermore, buyers negotiate contracts with manufacturers on the basis of price and quality of products being totally oblivious to the fact that the demand for a better working environment requires an additional investment. This is roundly ignored or bypassed.
In all, this is self-servingly unethical on the part of brand entities and retailers. The garment factory owners seem to have played into their hands by not feeling pressured enough to build all standard safety precautions into the structure of garments houses.
Basically, Bangladesh garment industry is 'founded on rock-bottom wages, labour rights restrictions and poorly enforced health and safety standards', as the author of the report, Bjorn Claeson pointed out.
The report instituted in the wake of deadly fires in Pakistan and Bangladesh which snuffed out 400 workers altogether and injured hundreds more calls for urgent attention from all concerned. It highlights a systemic failure that has been allowed to perpetuate for lack of any intervention at any point in time. This should be forthcoming now.
We could not agree more with the call for a 'new openness' in the garment industry where companies will share what they know about the dangers in work places and 'workers speak up and organise to protect themselves'.