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Examiner
  • Jerry Plantz: We shop and look the other way

  • Are some cost-saving, greedy companies and corporations complicit in endangering foreign, slave-labor employees, and are we, as parsimonious consumers, equally abetting in fatal plant tragedies?

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  • Are some cost-saving, greedy companies and corporations complicit in endangering foreign, slave-labor employees, and are we, as parsimonious consumers, equally abetting in fatal plant tragedies?
    The collapse of that eight-story factory building in Savar, Bangladesh has now claimed more than 600 lives while hundreds more remain unaccounted for. More than 3,000 people were inside when the structure collapsed.
    Nine people have been arrested, and police have questioned an engineer who warned the day before that the plant had cracks in its concrete pillars and was unsafe.
    Last November, 112 workers died in a garment-factory fire in Dhaka because supervisors had locked the doors. Seven had perished in a previous fire.
    Bangladesh is the second only to China in exporting clothing with an estimated 3.6 million garment workers who average the paltry sum of $37 to $39 a month.
    More than two dozen international retailers have their wares made at Bangladesh plants including JC Penney, The Gap, Nike, Tesco, Wal-Mart, Calvin Klein, Sears, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap, Kohl’s, Benetton and Loblaw.
    CEOs are now reviewing safety and production procedures following a Reuters report that there has never been a case in which a factory owner was prosecuted over the deaths of workers.
    America has its own worker-safety problems with its lack of state and federal safety inspections and regulations.
    American industry and commerce wants us to trust them with self-regulations and to keep the government at a distance. Such is the case in West, Texas, where a seldom inspected fertilizer plant exploded, killing 14 people and injuring 200 others. The media have discovered the lack of local and state inspections, plus many burglaries and ammonia leaks. The Associated Press reports that the plant only had $1 million in liability insurance.
    Some unscrupulous retailers know that Americans have a short memory and will return to banking enormous savings from unsafe foreign factories with little or no government oversight. We are either ignorant to what is going on in unsafe plants hiring slave laborers that make products that we race to the mall to buy, or, are we apathetic or influenced by bargain prices?
    When will we start asking moral questions about ourselves and those bottom-line retailers?
    Or, do we forget and continue on with “business as usual” until another fatal plant tragedy occurs? The victims of those disasters deserve an answer.
    I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.
     
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