Six months ago, the world looked on in horror as a Bangladeshi garment factory collapsed into rubble taking the lives of more than a thousand workers. Western retailers promised to do more, to pay more, to keep their workers safer. But, the global spotlight of outrage comes and goes, and while it was focused elsewhere, how much has changed? Bloomberg revisits the country with a grim update:
Today, not a single Bangladeshi garment factory has been inspected under any of the three programs that sprang from those promises, according to officials at the programs. Nor has danger ceased in the $19 billion industry: Two weeks ago, a fire ripped through a factory in a Dhaka suburb that provided material for plants supplying clothing to companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) Nine workers died.
The slow implementation comes against a backdrop of worker unrest that has stalled production in factories and led to massive street demonstrations over safety conditions and wages, which are set at $39 a month before overtime. One, on Oct. 15, was quelled by the Industrial Police, a rubber-bullet-firing riot force set up two years ago to bring protesting garment workers under control.