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December 31st, 2013
The lead article in today’s New York Times, “Clothing Brands Sidestep Blame for Safety Lapses,” shows that the industry has a long way to go to reform the sweatshops in developing countries that are still making our clothes.
Problems with unsafe building, labor conditions and wages persist in a global supply chain that is showing major differences between the brand name companies and the factories that they use, primarily in Bangla Desh, to maximize profits.
This article tells a story about two companies, the Spanish brand name company, Mango, and the place where their product is made, in the Rana Plaza complex by Phantom Tac. Just in April, a building collapsed at the complex killing 1,100 workers, and Mango is protesting about even contributing to a compensation fund for the victims.
Phantom Tac was supposed to be different, trying to apply enlightened ideals of employee rights, but the pressure to produce more clothes in a shorter period of time because of the low profit margin soon overwhelmed them. Without some effort to alleviate these pressures on an industry-wide basis, the problem with sweatshops in Bangla Desh will persist.
The New York Times looks at just two companies, but their investigative reporting is enlightening. It is a shame that real people must suffer as the industry struggles to change its image for buyers. Brand names must take it upon themselves to reform these factories, and a market does exist among consumers for those companies doing so.
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