Human before the garment : Bangladesh tragedy revisited. Ethical manufacturing or lack thereof in garment manufacturing industry
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The clothing apparel industry has evolved at a tremendous speed, keeping with the needs and demands of people, their geographical location, climate, traditions and so on. In the midst of this continued growth, in the April 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse of garment factories in Bangladesh, deemed the second most horrific industrial tragedy after Bhopal, that has left 1000s dead, more wounded, some disabled for life, brand names such as Primark, Loblaw whose brands include Joe Fresh, and others that have denied connections such as Walmart, Carrefour, GAP, and so on, have become the focus of international community‟s criticism where corporate social responsibility is concerned. Though most apparel brands claim that their products are "ethically sourced", their attempts to seek manufacturing plants in low-wage developing nations to drive down production costs and increase profits inadvertently gives rise to what is commonly termed as „sweat shops‟ (Arnold and Hartman, 2005) with forced labour and no regards for their health or safety. Almost a year after the world-shaking collapse, the victims, their families and the garments workers population in general continue to fight for their rights, better standards of living, safer working environments, that seem to be falling on deaf ears. Although this industry seems to be consumer driven, there seems to be glaring gap in the literature and practice that directly involves and uses consumers as a driving force towards ethical manufacturing. This paper revisits the Savar Tragedy using primary and secondary data to highlight the key issues related to the manufacturing industry, particularly the Savar Tragedy in Bangladesh, some solutions that have come in place and proposes future study into possible solutions that involve ethical consumerism for a sustainable future of the industry.
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