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Monde Apparels, Bangladesh. Via CBS
In June, the U.S. suspended Bangladesh's free trade privileges after a spate of tragic, preventable industrial accidents in the South Asian nation cost the lives of over 1200 garment workers.
Now, the Obama administration has outlined the steps it says Bangladesh needs to take in order for that free-trade status to be restored.
Here are the plan's key provisions, according to Women's Wear Daily:
·Increasing sanctions for labor violations sufficient to deter future misconduct
· Publicly reporting on the outcome of union registration applications
· Establishing an effective complaint mechanism for labor violations
· Ending violence and harassment of labor activists and unions
Bangladesh's combination of official corruption, poverty, the world's lowest minimum wage, history of official repression of labor activists and unions, and lax enforcement of what safety laws do exist has long made deadly industrial accidents sadly common. The Bangladeshi government says it has been working to enact new legislation, but the international community and the private sector play a role, too. The annual revenue of Wal-Mart, the second-largest producer of clothing in Bangladesh, dwarfs the annual gross domestic product of the impoverished nation; Bangladesh cannot be expected to tackle this problem alone. In a joint statement, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Department of Labor, and the State Department stressed the need for cooperation between the various stakeholders:
"We urge the retailers and brands to take steps needed to help advance changes in the Bangladeshi garment sector and to work together and with other stakeholders to ensure that their efforts are coordinated and sustained," the agencies said. "The Administration looks forward to continuing its engagement with the Government of Bangladesh and all stakeholders in order to effect positive change for Bangladeshi workers and to help ensure that the recent tragedies we have witnessed do not recur."
— Jenna Sauers
· U.S. Outlines Plan for Bangladesh Safety [WWD]
· What If the Garment Industry Had 'Ethically Made' Labels? [Racked]
· Would You Pay More for Target's Phillip Lim Collab if it Were Ethically Made? [Racked]