After the collapse, the Obama administration decided to take action…because in a flash, they were suddenly ready to take action on a petition that was initially filed 12 years ago. But what concerns us with boycotts is what happens to the millions of workers who may lose jobs?
The petition was submitted by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) who believed that Bangladesh was not doing enough to put internationally recognised labour rights into effect. They suggested that as ‘punishment’, Bangladesh shouldn’t be allowed to benefit from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP - http://www.ustr.gov/trade-topics/trade-development/preference-programs/generalized-system-preference-gsp) program which allows duty-free exports of some Bangladeshi goods to the US.
On June 27th, 2013 it was announced that trade privileges for Bangladesh’s exports got suspended.
So what does this mean for the garment workers of Bangladesh?
Curiously enough, the benefits that were being received from the program did not even apply to exports from the garment industry. With that in mind, we’re worried that this forceful approach might not actually be in the interest of the garment workers and could in fact be harmful to workers within other, much poorer industries that were benefitting from program.
The suspension of the GSP program means that Bangladesh will be paying higher duties, over and above the $732 paid in 2012 on $4.9 billion of garment exports alone. Will this really encourage Bangladesh to invest more money in improving working conditions? It’s possible that this decision could cause some retailers to pull out of Bangladesh altogether as a result of higher costs, which could cause a number of job losses. Surely a better approach would be to re-invest the profits gained from increased duties into helping Bangladesh establish better conditions? What do you think?
Apart from raising awareness, we’re:
- Highlighting to retailers and anyone who will listen, the need to ‘RRRR’ – "Retrain, Relocate, Rehouse and Reunite" garment workers with their families.
- Encouraging the world to shop Fairtrade. Have a look at our Fairtrade info. It’s easier than you think!
-W e’re also reinforcing ethical travel. Our travel advice pages will give you a helping hand.
Here are some links to ideas that we recommend:
- The Buycott website/app: Buycott is a tool that lets you organize your consumer spending to help causes that you care for, and to oppose those that you don't.
- Who has and hasn’t signed? Following the Rana Plaza collapse the International Labour Organisation asked retailers to make a commitment towards ending the continuing factory disasters in Bangladesh. To help people make informed decisions we’ve provided a list here, of who has and hasn’t signed so far.
NOTE - THIS POST WAS WRITTEN IN 2013 - just after the Rana Plaza collapse/
So just why is Amcariza so concerned for the Garment workers of Bangladesh? This page will tell you everything that you need to know.
The story begins on April 24th, 2013 (well in the mass media anyway), when the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry (RMG) was struck by a tragedy. An eight-story garment factory collapsed and although many were able to escape, a total of 1,136 workers died.
This wasn’t the first disaster to hit Bangladesh’s RMG industry and along with many other people and organisations, Amcariza is working to make sure that it is the last. What are we doing? Even though the Rana Plaza collapse happened years ago, the plight of the garment workers is and on-going issue and we’re working to ensure that they are not forgotten.