By now you’ve probably already heard about Joe Fresh’s fall from Grace. How could a company so loved, that seemed to represent so much good be okay with having its Bangladesh workers working in a substandard building? Didn’t they care that people could lose their lives in this building? That children would come home find out that their parent has died, or parents would come home to find out that their children died in their building?
In the collapse of a factory building that included Joe Fresh’s work space 230 people were killed this week. 230 people died a very avoidable death, as all that they needed was a safe work environment, but instead they were to work in a dilapidated building that would crash and take their lives.
Independent Toronto clothing maker Devorah Miller posted on her Red Thread Design blog: “Those tragedies happen because demand for low prices pushes down wages and safety standards. That’s the price paid for our fantastic bargains.
Are we just as guilty as Joe Fresh for these deaths? Most of us are aware that the cheaper the clothing, the more likely it is to have been made under unethical conditions, yet the majority continue to prefer the Made in China, India, or Bangladesh shirt to the Made in Canada, USA, or fair trade shirt. In an industry of supply and demand, was Joe Fresh forced to cut corners, keeping prices low to please us?
Most certainly not, says Canadian Apparel Federation executive director Bob Kirke. “It is possible to make and sell an $8 T-shirt in a safe factory” he told the Star.“A safe and an unsafe factory in Bangladesh is not matter of a huge amount of extra costs. It’s the desire to do it,” he continued.
Though Joe Fresh has released statements promising to look into the incident, customers are horrified by the entire ordeal and many have warned they would boycott the Toronto fashion label until there was proof of change. Show us the receipts, Joe. It’s going to take more that a few carefully crafted press releases to prove that you accept responsibility for the loss of those 238 lives, as well as the poor wages you paid them.
It has been reported that the workers were forced to keep producing clothes even after police ordered an evacuation due to deep, visible cracks in the walls.
“Why is Loblaws not part of the Fire and Building Safety program like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger?” demanded Lindsay White, referring to a program that helps fund safety repairs at factories and bans production at sites that don’t make such repairs. “Until Loblaws gets on board with that, I will stop putting any more money into your brands.”
Let’s hope that all manufacturers learn from this and make strong efforts to improve wages and working conditions for their employees.
What do you think about this situation?