A garment factory that manufactures products for international clothing companies collapsed outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh, last month, killing more than 400 workers and injuring scores of others. It came on the heels of a fire at another factory in November 2012; that incident killed 112 workers.
Factories like these in Bangladesh pump out what author Elizabeth Cline calls “fast fashion,” or clothes made on the cheap by big chains such as H&M, Zara, Esprit, Lee, Wrangler, Nike, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart.
“There is no other reason why a company would be doing business there,” she says. “These deaths are happening because they are trying to step into the shoes of China. The cost of labor, the costs are going up in China and fashion companies are trying to maintain their margins and trying to maintain their cheap prices, so they want Bangladesh to do what China was doing. But Bangladesh can’t do that.”
It’s a numbers game, says Cline. Bangladesh has around 4,000 garment factories compared to China’s 40,000. The average wage for a garment worker in China is close to $200; the average for a worker in Bangladesh is $37.
More on this story
Filmed in Bangladesh, one of the world’s largest textile manufacturers, this resource explores the social cost of our cheap textiles. With footage filmed inside a number of Bangladeshi textile factories, it explores the issues of sweatshop labour, poor working conditions, a fair wage and the right to unionise, asking: who is responsible? It then compares the social impacts of this mass-scale textile production with the benefits brought to a small rural community in Bangladesh by a fair trade textile initiative.
Questions – make dot point responses
What issues arise from this article?
What issues are ethical?
What are the impacts on stakeholders?
Businesses in Bangladesh?
Business in Australia and the rest of the world?
Workers in Bangladesh?
Workers in Australia?
Consumers in Australia?
Please type your responses on this form