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Profit margins from cheap clothing? Or worker safety? Where are our priorities?

Yesterday, there was yet another fire in yet another garment factory near Dhaka, Bangladesh.

This time eight people died, including the factory’s managing director and a top police official.

“The blaze comes just two weeks after the collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza building, home to five garment factories, killed at least 948 people and became the worst tragedy in the history of the global garment manufacturing industry. The disaster has raised alarm about the often deadly working conditions in Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry, which provides clothing for major retailers around the globe.”  Read more here.

“Now, after this latest deadly fire, garment workers have again been gathering in the streets, wondering if safety at their factories will ever be made a real priority.”

Those of us in the union movement know that workers face essentially the same issues, no matter what country we are working in.  (Here in the America, 150 workers die every day from occupational injuries or diseases.)

We know that heartbreak sounds the same, no matter what language the family is crying in.

And we know that profit-seeking and political collusion are the real cause of these disasters.

“The Bangladesh garment industry, a national golden goose, is politically well-connected…with dozens of lawmakers closely linked to factory owners.

“And though many Western apparel companies adopt codes of conduct, they’re keen to drive production costs down and maximize profit…  The average wage for garment workers in Bangladesh is 10 to 30 cents an hour, labor activists say.”  Read more here.

What’s happening in Bangladesh is eerily similar to what happened in New York City’s garment industry, 100 years ago.

How long are we going to let history repeat itself?

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About Liz Iacobucci

Liz Iacobucci is the former Public Information Officer for the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire, SEIU Local 1984. Over the past three decades, she has served in government at the federal, state and municipal levels; and she has worked for both Democratic and Republican politicians.
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