Bangladesh Fire Exposes Safety Gap In Supply Chain By Jim Yardley, NYTimes (Dec. 6, 2012)
- "...the factory was not a safe place to work. Fire safety precautions were woefully inadequate. The building itself was under construction...mounds of flammable yarn and fabric were illegally stored on the ground floor near the electrical generators."
- "Big brands demand that factories be inspected by accredited auditing firms...If a factory does not muster, it is not supposed to get orders from Western customers."
- "...much of the factory's business came through opaque networks of subcontracts with suppliers or local buying houses."
- "The local man is important. The buyer - I don't care."
- "...the conflagration was a tragic byproduct of an industry in which global brands and retailers, encouraged by hundreds of millions of consumers around the world, are still primarily motivated by the bottom line."
- "They did not tell us what we do if the fire started on the ground floor."
- "...many of the Tazreen factory's victims were young rural women with little education, who earned as little as $45 a month in an industry that now accounts for $19 billion in exports."
- "Given the scale of work, retailers frequently place orders through suppliers and other middlemen who, in turn, steer work to factories that deliver low costs - a practice [he said is] hardly unknown to Western retailers and clothing brands."
Fast and Flawed inspections of Factories Abroad by Stephanie Clifford and Steven Greenhouse, NYTIMES (September 1, 2013)
- “...unknown to the inspectors, none of the playful items...that were supplied to Walmart had been manufactured at the factory. Instead, Chinese workers sewed the goods...at a rogue factory that had not gone through the certification process set by Walmart for labor, worker safety or quality…”
- “The inspections are often so superficial that they omit the most fundamental workplace safeguards like fire escapes...even when inspectors are tough, factory managers find ways to trick them and hide serious violations, like child labor or locked exit doors. Dangerous conditions cited in the audits frequently take months to correct, often with little enforcement or follow-through to guarantee compliance.”
- Dara O’Rourke…”The auditors are put under greater pressure on speed, and they’re not able to keep up with what’s really going on in the apparel industry.”
- “Even with American and European companies appointing executives this summer to put in place a stricter regimen of inspections and safeguards under the new agreements, these efforts are limited to Bangladesh. Other leading garment-producing nations...are not getting such stepped-up attention or expanded inspections.”
- “The inspections carry enormous weight with factory owners, who stand to win or lose millions of dollars in orders depending on their ratings. With stakes so high, factory managers have been known to try to trick or cheat the auditors.”
- “Unauthorized subcontracting, or farming work out, … is “very, very common””
- “...Even inspections conducted at authorized factories can be deeply flawed”
- “...Western retailers and brands often seek different levels of audits. Some...want rigorous - and costly - audits, while others prefer limited, inexpensive audits that will not jeopardize relationships with favored suppliers.”
- “Some auditors receive only five days of training…”
- “...far too often, factory managers play cat-and-mouse games with inspectors because they are desperate to avoid a failing grade and the loss of a lucrative stream of orders.
- “Mr. van Heerden said, “You can never visit facilities often enough to make sure they stay compliant - you’ll never have enough inspectors to do that. What really keeps factories compliant is when workers have a voice and they can speak out when something isn’t right.”
Garment Trade Wields Power in Bangladesh by Jim Yardley, NYTIMES (July 24, 2013)
- “For two decades, as Bangladesh became a garment power, now trailing only China in global clothing exports, the trade group has often seemed more like a government ministry. Known as B.G.M.E.A, the organization helps regulate and administer exports and its leaders sit on high-level government committees on labor and security issues.”
- “...the quasi-official garment group...presents a major conflict of interest at the center of Bangladesh’s troubles…”
- “Bangladeshi officials promised to overhaul their labor laws...but exporting industries, notably the garment sector, were exempted.”
- “The employers have tremendous influence”
- “Business interests dominate Bangladesh’s Parliament.”
- “Three years ago, the prime minister created an industrial police force to maintain order in factory districts and act as an independent arbiter...the force almost always favors owners.”
- “Bangladesh’s government is notoriously corrupt and has limited bureaucratic capacity to handle the intricate mechanics of global trade.”