What’s the real cost of a cheap $8 shirt?
Canadian consumers grappled with the guilt and confusion tied to that question Thursday as horror played out in Bangladesh. The sheer magnitude of the factory collapse outside Dhaka is unprecedented even in that poor Asian nation, where an estimated 700 people working in its booming garment industry have died on the job in the past eight years.
Experts on discount culture say that Westerners’ craving for cheap clothes does not have to come at the expense of worker safety, and angry consumers took up that call on social media Thursday, condemning the brands whose garments were made at the collapsed factory.
Those brands include Joe Fresh, the Brampton, Ont., based company that has been celebrated by fashion insiders and regular shoppers for providing the latest trends at bargain prices.
Hundreds of people wrote on the retailer’s Facebook and Twitter pages, saying that the company’s response to the disaster amounted to too little, too late.
Joe Fresh’s parent company, Loblaw Cos. Ltd., released a statement Wednesday that said a “small number” of Joe Fresh items were made at the Bangladeshi factory.
“What constitutes ‘a small number of … items?’ Does sourcing slave labour on a small scale make you less responsible than those who do it on a large scale? Put on your humanity hat, dig into those massive Joe Fresh profits, grab your corporate shareholders and head over to help the recovery,” wrote Kelly Penman of Brampton. (Source: Globe & Mail)
F E E D B A C K
Letters to the Editor:
MacKay’s cartoon was shameful – Graeme MacKay’s cartoon in Friday’s Spectator was an obscenity. It portrays Canadians as selfish, avaricious buffoons who care nothing for the plight of garment workers in Bangladesh so long as they can get their bargains. Because of the greed of Western corporations, clothing is outsourced to Third World nations to maximize profits, with little or no regard to the health and safety of workers in those countries. We as consumers are given no choice in the matter. It’s impossible to find all our garment needs that are manufactured domestically. Shame on The Spectator for publishing this. – Hadyn Painter, Hamilton
Spec cartoon was in poor taste – The Bangladesh “bargain basement” cartoon in last Friday’s Spectator was extremely tasteless. I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this way. This is pushing freedom of speech too far. – Paul Laird, Burlington