Australian Clothes Brands Part of Sweatshop Conditions in Asian Factories
By Vittorio Hernandez | January 6, 2014 10:13 AM EST
The huge blaze in October that killed seven workers and razed a Bangladeshi textile factory that made materials for known retail outlets found in Australia such a Kmart, Target, Big W and Just Jeans brought to fore not only the sweatshop conditions in these facilities.
Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) said Tuesday it will close as many as 100 to 120 Kmart and Sears Full-line stores after holiday sales of consumer electronics and apparel declined in the U.S.
As the local operators of the factories face charges, it also highlighted the role that Aussie clothing brands play in perpetuating the dangerous working conditions in Asian factories that produce clothes for the Australian and other western markets.
The October fire was the fifth in the last 18 months in Bangladesh, involving blazes and building collapses that had taken the lives of over 1,200 local workers, bringing the global rag trade to international attention.
However, what appears to be unfortunate here - besides the loss of lives and jobs, is the washing of hands of the operators of these companies and Australian retailers that benefitted from the cheap labour. Aussie firms which partly source their clothing items from Aswad Composite Mills - the one that burned in October - claimed they did not know the factory, its perils, and even insist they do not need to know due to lack of direct relationship but just a supplier-to-supplier deal. That was the stand of Big W and Target, while Kmart said it no longer sources materials or garments from Aswad.
The clothes that Aussies wear usually had actually passed several nations, beginning with the picking of cotton in countries like Uzbekistan which is notorious for the use of child labour during harvest, followed by weaving of the materials in Indian factories where underage girls work under illegal three-year contracts and garments stitching in Bangladesh.
The Aswad factory, which exported $200 million worth of clothes in 2013, was found by government inspectors to be dangerous to human life.
Due to the extremely low labour costs in these Asian factories which hire mostly uneducated or unskilled poor women, countries like Bangladesh that earns $22 billion from the textile trade yearly and whose economy would collapse if the sector would be boycotted, would remain a favourite hub for clothing manufacturing.
Aswad owners deny there were faults with the factory and are even insisting criminal charges filed by the Bangladeshi government are false and fabricated. Among the finding of government inspectors were non maintenance of fire extinguishers and other fire safety equipment, lack of regular maintenance of motors, electrical switches and wiring and improper ventilation of the edifice.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Taylor Swift Named Forbes' Second Highest Paid Country Musician [PHOTOS]
- Forever Lost: Indescribable Anguish for Malaysia Airlines MH17 Families, Remains of Some Victims May Never Be Found (PHOTOS)
- Global Aviation Accidents: UN to Form Safety Task Force, Gov'ts Should Share Intelligence Info to Avert Future Incidents on Flying Over Warzones (PHOTOS)
- Lunch with the Gods: Pope Francis Eats with Vatican Workers in Cafeteria
Join the Conversation
- El Pollo Loco Shareprice Up 33% on 1st Day of Trading
- South Australia OKs $800M Copper, Gold & Iron Ore Mine on Prime Agri Land in Yorke Peninsula
- Long Beach Real Estate Market Is Pricing Out Home Buyers with Limited Budget
- Australian Stock Market Report –Midday July 30, 2014
- 93% of Mining Leaders See Extremely Low or Zero Growth Prospect for Industry in Next 1-2 Years; No Immediate Plans by BHP for Olympic Dam Expansion
- Selena Gomez Allegedly Back in Rehab, Hugs Nat Wolff the Night Justin Bieber & Orlando Bloom Made Headlines in Ibiza
- Girls Star Allison Williams to Play Titular Role in NBC's Peter Pan Live
- Kendall Jenner Forbids Sister Kim Kardashian from Attending her Fashion Shows, Considers her Presence a Hindrance - Reports
- Kendall Jenner Ignores Kim Kardashian Big Time, Tries to Befriend Beyonce - Reports
- Apple Mac Remains Strong Despite Challenging PC Market, iPhone Remains a Winner Through Q3 Price Points