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The Cost of Lower Prices August 1, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Capitalism, Labor.
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Roger’s note: human beings are both producers and consumers.  As consumers we enjoy a good bargain.  As producers we NEED a decent job.  Collectively labor should always trump consumption, although we are seduced by lower prices to betray the solidarity essential to the human community of producers (i.e. those of us who work for a living, which is the 99 percent).  This cartoon shows us graphically how capitalist economy is destructive of the human community, in this case globally.

 

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Critics Blast US Retailers’ Corporate-Dominated Factory Safety “Sham” July 11, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Bangladesh, Labor.
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Labor Rights Groups: ‘This confirms what we have long predicted: that Wal-Mart, Gap and companies like them do not want to make any promises they actually have to keep.’

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Names of killed Bangladesh workers are strung outside a GAP shareholders meeting in May 2013. (Photo: Anirvan/cc/flickr)

In what is being blasted as a “sham” and an “expensive PR stunt” by workers’ rights groups, 17 North American retailers—including the Gap and Wal-Mart—launched a Bangladesh worker safety plan Wednesday as a means of sidestepping a legally binding international agreement.

The plan, called the “Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety” was devised as an alternative to the Bangladesh Safety Accord—a union-led and legally binding agreement signed by over 70 international brands and retailers.

“Gap and Wal-Mart’s safety plan is a sham which won’t make factories safe and only serves to undermine the Bangladesh Safety Accord,” said Murray Worthy, sweatshops campaigner at the human rights watchdog group War on Want.

Both agreements were spurred by the enormous international outcry following the Rana Plaza disaster in April when over 1,100 workers were killed in the collapse of a substandard Bangladesh factory. Previous to the collapse, a series of devastating garment factory fires highlighted the dangerous working conditions in the country and the enormous risk posed to millions of workers paid as little as $40 a month.

“This is just more of the same corporate-dominated voluntary measures that were so clearly proven to have failed in the Rana Plaza disaster,” Worthy continued. “Gap, Wal-Mart and the other brands behind the Alliance must scrap this expensive PR stunt and join the rest of the clothing industry in signing the comprehensive, legally binding and life-saving Bangladesh Safety Accord.”

Other signers of the Alliance include Target, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, Sears, L.L. Bean and J.C.Penney.

The deal alleges to inspect all factories used by the signatories within a year and establish a common set of safety standards. Further, the retailers will reportedly pay up to $1m a year each to support mandatory training for factory staff and managers and to support “worker participation committees” in every factory to deal with complaints about working conditions, the Guardian reports.

However, according to a response by a half-dozen labor rights groups reported by IPS, “companies that decide to withdraw from the alliance are only penalized by being forced to pay their share of administrative costs. For large companies, this would work out to around five million dollars – while Wal-Mart alone brings in more than 400 billion dollars annually.”

“Companies that sign onto the alliance but fail to meet a commitment face no adverse consequences beyond expulsion from the scheme. Instead, workers will continue to pay,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, told IPS.

Further, Trumka notes that the “so-called” Global Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety was developed without consulting with workers or union representatives and other critics point out that the “worker participation committees” will likely undermine workers’ rights to join trade unions and organize freely.

“This confirms what labor rights advocates have long predicted: that Wal-Mart, Gap and companies like them simply do not want to make any promises they actually have to keep,” said the labor rights coalition. “What they want is to be able to make promises now, at a time of major public and media scrutiny, that they can walk away from whenever it suits them, at a token cost.”

_____________________

Gap and Walmart Dishonesty June 4, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, Bangladesh, Human Rights, Labor.
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Last week, Gap made a big announcement. After weeks of pressure by people across the globe to sign the binding Bangladesh Safety Accord and end death traps in its factories, Gap put out a press release about its big new plan: partnering with Walmart on a fake “safety plan” that is not accountable to anyone.

Gap thinks it can fool us with a cheap PR stunt. It’s wrong.

Help us undermine Gap’s PR stunt by spreading the word about Gap and Walmart’s deadly “plan” and sharing this image on Facebook or forwarding this email to your friends.

Click here to share this image and help spread the word about Gap and Walmart’s dishonesty:

http://act.sumofus.org/go/1818?t=2&akid=1772.1024433.pqh3GU

 

Gap and Walmart are strange bedfellows. Walmart has a long record of unethical behavior, from brutally exploiting workers to discriminating against women to bribing Mexican officials, and it’s one of the most hated corporations in the world. Until recently, Gap was seen as a fairly responsible company.

Our sources tell us that Gap’s senior executives get really upset when they hear their company’s name mentioned in the same breath as Walmart. It means the brand they’ve tried to create for years is crumbling. But if they’re going to get in bed with Walmart to avoid taking responsibility for workers’ safety, they’re going to have to deal with the consequences. If Gap doesn’t like it, it can join the Bangladesh Safety Accord like dozens of brands already have.

Thanks for keeping the pressure on Gap to actually protect its workers from death traps,
Marguerite, Rob, Kaytee, and the rest of The Sum Of Us

 

P.S. We’ve created a new tumblr to spread the word about Gap and Walmart’s blossoming friendship: gapheartswalmart.tumblr.com. If you want to make your own submission (and make Gap’s bosses angry), just go here or here and email a link to reportback@sumofus.org. We’ll take the best submissions and put them on the tumblr.

Walmart: “Not Financially Feasible” To Take Minimal, Legally Required Steps to Save Workers’ Lives December 6, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Bangladesh, Labor.
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Roger’s note: Marx wrote that one of the essential flaws of capitalism is that it is inherently incapable of protecting living human beings.  It is all about competition, profit, and the expansion of capital.  In our lifetime we are witnessing the coming to fruition of the logical consequences of capitalist economic relations, and this is truly frightening.  Government was forced to intervene in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to mitigate the barbarism of unfettered industrial capitalism; in our time nothing less that the kinds of popular uprisings we see today in Europe and the Middle East and last year in the Occupy movements can save us from the consequences of twenty-first century capitalism with its massive resources directed at militarization and total control of governments.
12.06.12 – 10:54 AM, www.commondreams.org

by Abby Zimet

_walmart_fire

In the wake of last month’s fire in a Bangladesh garment factory that killed over 100 workers, Bloomberg has gained access to notes from a 2011 meeting where Walmart officials decided against paying suppliers high enough prices to cover costs of needed safety improvements because they deemed it “not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.” The meeting was attended by more than a dozen retailers, including Gap, Target and JC Penney. Over 300 Bangladeshi garment factory workers have died since 2006. Walmart reported a 9% increase in third-quarter net income, bringing their earnings for that quarter to $3.63 billion. An estimated half of Bangladesh’s garment factories don’t meet legally required work safety standards. At a fire in a nearby warehouse two days after the Tazreen factory fire, workers had to climb down a bamboo pole because they couldn’t get to the stairs; graffiti on a restroom wall there read: “Work here and your life is a living hell.”

“Specifically to the issue of any corrections on electrical and fire safety, we are talking about 4,500 factories, and in most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories,” they said in the document. “It is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.”

bangladesh-fire-mourner-horizontal-gallery

COMMENTS

  • gardenernorcal

     

    “It is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.”

     

    Guess what if that is their firm position, then mine is: It’s no longer morally feasible for me to purchase your goods.  I am thinking if fewer people buy their goods they may change their way of thinking.

  • sLiM_mC_sHaDy

    Yes, please do not shop there. I never have; they sicken me.

  • Catherine Carre

    People forget that it is precisely this type of immoral exploitation that led Marx and Engels to develop their communist philosophy…Engels’ “The condition of the working class in England” describes very similar conditions as suffered by those workers in developing countries employed by behemoths such as Walmart…communism is the child of capitalism..

  • nveric

    Show me how Communism works?

  • Tom Carberry

    Communism works fine in Cuba, despite over 60 years of a crushing blockade.  Communism worked fine in the Soviet Union if you consider general equality and the absence of crime a good life.  Muhammad Ali said he felt safer in Moscow than any other city in the world, because it had no crime.

    Communism had its horrors, like Stalin’s gulags.  But the American slavery system, followed by 160 years of Jim Crow, and the largest prison system in the history of the world (dwarfing Stalin’s gulags at their largest point), makes those horrors look like minor glitches.

    And don’t forget the many tens of millions of people America has slaughtered in its wars for profit.

    American capitalism works for the top 20% of the people, but not for the rest.

  • Gubdeb

    I dunno…which is worse?: 1: Walmart, or, 2: the MIC/American Capitalism that makes a “Walmart”possible? How many wars did we wage to get to this point. How many “Deals” were cut to have these products sold here? (see NAFTA & Robert Reich) The POINT is, until we face who we really are, things will never change. Walmart is just a symptom, not the problem.

  • AmonVerite

    Here is the problem: http://www.stateofnature.org/d…

  • giovannalepore

    Remember Bhopal India and now Bangladesh: Symbols of why they hate the USA. Your “democracy” and “freedom” are nothing but smoke screens for crimes against humanity.

  • Gubdeb

    I thought Indians loved the USA(?) Why, the MSM in recent years has woven Indians into the very fabric of American life. In network programming, ads, and they seem to all love Walmart. Yes, Walmart.

  • giovannalepore

    I doubt that this is the case with the overwhelming numbers of Indians IN India especially those who were the US victims. At the rate the US is going it will have the entire world despise it.

  • Matthew Grebenc

    Money is power, and corporations pursue it at any cost. They are psychopathic.

  • wildcarrots

    Well yes there is a sick mentality.  Once a factory burns down it will have to been re-built or replaced.  You either re-build it before or after the employees are there working.  that is the sick really stupid part.

  • theoldgoat

    This is where we are, its emblematic of the massive shift that must be brought about in order to restore balance.

    “Work here and your life is a living hell.”

    … the system, owned by interests that value profit over life, scorn those who see from other perspectives – an absolutely essential aspect of life – yet do so brutally, without compunction, on the backs of BILLIONS OF PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD>

    Boycott any brand you cannot identify and source to ethical satisfaction.

  • itsthethird

    Corporations and workers  can take the heat while the stockholders, capitalists, consumers, and  management, can take the profits.  However the costs of profit are spread disproportionate to benefits if any exist the benefits are captured immediately while costs are avoided by all.  The whole system is dysfunctional because cost avoidance or shifting is acceptable and or encouraged.

  • greatbear215

    Walmurder: Were they value profits over people!

  • Shantiananda

    Not just Walmart, but the whole American Empire, “value profits over people”!   Walmart is just the paradigm of the American corportocracy.

  • AmonVerite

  • Gubdeb

    Thank you, Shan.

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