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For the second time in five weeks, a nationwide strike planned by eight Cambodian garment unions has failed to attract significant worker support.
Bangladesh Alliance “offers to pay wages in suspended factories” and claims “over half our factories inspected”
In an intriguing twist to the rarely-discussed rivalry between the Bangladesh Accord and Alliance, the Alliance offered on April 15 help in paying wages while factories were closed temporarily because of unclear assessments. It also claimed to have inspected neary 60% of its factories
Assessments of fire safety in Indonesian garment factories monitored by Better Work Indonesia (BWI) during 2013 show disturbing levels of safety hazards, though mainly on criteria that were not directly life-threatening.
When a company that’s part of a campaign called “Stop Exporting American Jobs” exports 600 of precisely the jobs the campaign says America needs desperately, it’s tempting to point out the hypocrisy. We can’t avoid the temptation in the case of Fruit of the Loom’s moving its Kentucky knitting operation to Honduras – but there are bigger lessons.
Disturbingly similar, deep rooted, tensions – seldom directly linked to garment industry issues – are at the root of most violence recently disturbing Bangladesh, Cambodia, Haiti, Thailand, Egypt, and Malaysia. There are interesting questions about why similar problems have not hit other major garment manufacturing centres – but at the end of 2013, political violence was probably looking a greater risk for many garment buyers than risks from bad weather, ethical concerns or unpredictable shifts in input prices.
Events in the last few weeks of December and the first week of January showed how easy it is to miss the really important changes in the industry. The unpredictability of the damage political strife can do to an entire industry, the miracle of Chinese garment-making productivity and the reasons for the sudden flight of spinners and weavers, especially Chinese, to the US, all became clear within a few weeks.