ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Corporate Greed

With reference to your editorial “Blood Garments” (EPW, 25 May 2013), the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh would be the latest incident in the string of tragedies like the suicides of the “Monsanto farmers” in India, the oil pipeline fires that have killed poor children in Nigeria or the deaths of workers in an iphone factory in China. At the root of these tragedies is the global greed of corporations which place profit before people. Indian companies are no exception. Indian children’s wear retail giant, Lilliput has failed to pay around $5 million to 22 garment factories in Bangladesh, to whom it has outsourced contracts. Due to this, around 30,000 workers lost their jobs.

The condition of textile workers in India is no better than that of their counterparts in Bangladesh. India is one of the worst offenders in terms of wages and working conditions in the garment industries. Low wages that are not enough to meet basic needs, long working hours, forced labour, no overtime wages, opposition to labour unions and employing children below 14 years are some of the cruel and unusual ways which companies find to stay competitive. The Indian government has often chosen to turn a blind eye to the inhuman working conditions of the textile workers since the multinational garment com­panies not only enjoy political support but also the structural adjustment programmes of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank help them a lot. The companies either do not pay or pay a little tax to the governments of third world countries whose workers are being exploited by them. The fear of loss of gross value added binds the hands of the government as does the apprehension that stringent regulations might force the corporate giants to shift to countries like Haiti, Tajikistan or Tasmania.

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