Mickleburgh: Bangladesh and The Bay

Since more than 1,100 textile workers were killed in the calamitous collapse of a building in Dhaka, where they laboured to make cheap clothes for consumers in wealthier countries, scores of European and North American retailers have signed a binding accord to help improve workplace safety in Bangladesh. Holdouts include the Hudson’s Bay, the oldest, continuous commercial operation in North America, as well as Walmart, Canadian Tire and others which opted for a lesser safety agreement that does not provide for independent, on-site, factory inspections.

This week, reports Rod Mickleburgh, about 100 union activists, including the leader of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity, trooped into The Bay in downtown Vancouver to make their case. Gathered before swank, high-priced merchandise, they serenaded shoppers, mannequins and suddenly-invisible Bay managers with chants of “Shame” and “Sign the Accord.”

Asks Mickleburgh in a Commentary column: “Surely, some executives somewhere must also be capable of thinking: if the cost of doing business involves the kind of textile-production atrocities we see in Bangladesh, is that production we want to be part of?”

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