Worker safety in the global marketplace — whose responsibility is it?


Over the past several months, major factory fires in Pakistan and Bangladesh have killed over 400 people working for companies that manufacture clothing for major American and European retailers and brands.  The tragedies are raising awareness of the need for international safety standards particularly in developing countries which have become the world’s largest suppliers of clothing.  In both fires, windows were barred and there were no accessible fire exits through which workers could escape the flames and smoke.  Clearly the government of these countries need to be more responsible when it comes to establishing workplace standards that assure worker safety, but the buyers of clothing produced oversees — retailers like Sears, Wal-Mart, and the Gap — bear responsibility as well.  And what about consumers who benefit from lower prices?  We’ll discuss these important questions with two guests — KEITH BROWN, assistant professor of sociology at St. Joseph’s University, and SCOTT NOVA, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, which investigates working conditions in factories around the world.

AP Photo/A.M. Ahad

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