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SWEATSHOP DISASTER: Bangladeshis pay heavy price for cheap clothing in building collapse

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 26th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

"Sweatshops," places that break labor and building codes in order to mass produce items on the cheap in order to reap high profits are endemic in the Third World. In poverty-stricken Bangladesh, an eight-story building in Savar, near Dhaka collapsed, killing at least 270 laborers as they worked to create clothing. Bangladeshis, forced to toil in unsafe condition at the risk of their lives have illustrated the very high price for cheap consumer goods.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The death toll from Wednesday morning's tragedy is only expected to climb as 600 people, mostly young women, remain missing.

Victims can still be heard screaming for help from beneath the rubble as rescue crews frantically try to reach them nearly two days after the collapse.

Protests erupted across Bangladesh as demonstrators railed against corrupt government officials and business groups that keep allowing slipshod construction and safety violations in that nation's fast-growing garment industry.

The question arises: How many more of these appalling tragedies must occur before American and European consumers start to hold our giant retail companies responsible for how their products are made?

Twenty-four-year-old activist Sumi Abedin, speaking in San Francisco relates how she broke both arms and a foot last November when she jumped from the third-floor of the Tazreen factory in Bangladesh. One of the lucky ones who survived a flash fire that had engulfed the building, 112 of her co-workers died because fire exits had been locked by factory managers.

The Tazreen factory produced clothes for Wal-Mart, Sears/Kmart, Sean Combs, Disney and several European firms. Many of these companies claimed ignorance of the factory's illegal and dangerous business practices. 

As a "senior seamstress," Abedin made about $15 weekly, working 11 to 13 hours a day, six days a week.

Average pay for the nearly four million Bangladeshi garment workers is only $37 a month. Bangladesh has since become the world's second-biggest garment exporter next to China. Even Chinese factories are moving to Dhaka these days.



  

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