Monday, 20 May 2013

Free trade comes first in Australian politics. Put people and right living first. No more sweatshop deaths.

If you haven't caught up with recent posts relating to the aftermath of the Bangladesh factory fire please go to the links below:

Will things really change or merely salve western middle-class consciences? Accord signed after Bangladesh factory deaths


As can be seen from the graphic below, American consumers are being asking to supervise their companies to ensure they act responsibly.  Yet, as you can see from the graphic below, before or after the fire doing the right thing by Bangladeshi factory workers was never-ever going to cost very much.  

The only thing that has driven these major corporations into the Bangladesh Factory Safety Accord has been self-interest in saving their corporate hides from a consumer backlash in their own consuming countries and the anger of Bangladeshi citizens in haranguing their own government for change.  Such a small cost for so many martyred employees!

So, Australians, please ride shotgun on your own corporate citizens. Question their supply chain. Question whether they have entered into a Factory Safety Accord in Bangladesh. Question whether they have learned from the Bangladesh experience sufficiently to translate to other sweatshop countries: China, Vietnam, India, Indonesia and so on.  

Surely, consumers in Australia are not so naive as to think the corporates will remain ethical of their own accord (pardon the questionable pun!).  Corporates in Austrealia will only act so long as there is an active, interested consumer voice encouraging them - and the parliaments of Australia - to make sure there are no more workplace martyrs anywhere in the world.

And a word to the Federal Government.  If you want to cut back the Australian Foreign Aid budget, how about making up for the lack of cash and substituting it with a ban on countries that allow breaches of human rights in the work place.  These breaches include 
  • Preventing and/or deterring workers from joining trade unions.
  • Preventing and/or deterring workers from seeking to have employers fulfil legal and necessary workplace health and safety conditions
  • Paying sweatshop wages instead of a living income.  
Free trade has come first far to often in Australian politics.
Let's put human beings and right living first.



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