Risking Lives to Save Dollars


Bangladesh Factory Fire - ABC News

Bangladesh Fire Video Link.

Many deplorable working situations in our world are kept hidden. Illegal immigrant workers abused behind locked doors. Kidnapped children forced to perform lewd or violent acts.

But one such secret is becoming uncovered. This secret touches the life of every consumer in the U.S. If you’ve ever bought an Apple product or shopped at Walmart, this secret touches you.

It is the secret of the dangerous and inhumane working conditions of the workers in countries such as China, India, and Bangladesh that produce products “cheaply” for U.S. companies.

It often takes an impressive explosion to blow these secrets apart. In May 2011, this happened at Foxconn, a factory in China that makes iPads for Apple, killing four people and injuring eighteen.

Over the past five years, deadly fires have killed over 700 workers in factories that made clothes for export in Bangladesh, including at the Tazreen Fashions Factory.

Other reports have leaked stories of underage workers, 100 hour work weeks, and other abuses.

Now we know.

Pressure from the media and from consumers has caused Apple to publicly release the names of many of its suppliers, to join the Fair Labor Association, and to start making changes.

We consumers demand similar accountability and transparency from all U.S. companies, even if it means paying more for products. Eventually, a required “list of suppliers” should be found on every product label, just as the FDA requires food labels. We can start by signing petitions, such as these already posted on Change.org, concerning Walmart, Samsung, and H&M.

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2 Responses to “Risking Lives to Save Dollars”

  1. Danielle Says:

    It’s interesting how much more attention we pay to such issues depending on how relevant the product is to our life. This may just be a personal example, but when the horrible conditions that Nike employees were working in became public several years ago, I took solace in the fact that I didn’t really buy Nike products anyway. However, I use multiple Apple products on a daily basis. Because of this personal relevance, I am much more likely to become actively involved in these issues. I guess this is a classic example of personal relevance being a key factor for social behavior change.

  2. elobe14 Says:

    This is definitely a disheartening situation that we all know is occurring and little is being done about it. I think that a solution will definitely involve a collaborative effort on behalf of both the US government, as well as the countries of interest. It seems that both parties prefer to look the other way to gain a profit. When you consider the occupational hazards and unsafe working conditions, it becomes a major public health concern as well as carrying moral and ethical issues. I think that independent trade unions and organization on behalf of buyer holdouts and worker union formation are the best places to begin creating change.

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