CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Business

December 12, 2012

Why efforts to stop factory fires have failed

Global clothing industry fails to come up with a long-term solution to fix working conditions

About a year and a half before a fire at a clothing factory in Bangladesh killed 112 people in November, executives from Wal-Mart, Gap and other big retailers met nearby to discuss ways to prevent the unsafe working conditions that have made such tragedies common.

Representatives from a dozen of the world's largest retailers and fashion labels gathered with labor groups and local officials in April 2011 at the three-day meeting held in the 15-story, glass-walled headquarters of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association in Dhaka, the capital. They were considering a first-of-its-kind contract that would govern fire safety inspections at thousands of Bangladeshi factories making T-shirts, blazers, and other clothes Americans covet.

Under the terms of the agreement, each company would be required to publicly report fire hazards at factories, pay factory owners more to make repairs and provide at least $500,000 over two years for the effort. They would also sign a legally binding agreement that would make them liable when there's a factory fire.

Discussions seemed promising. Then, on the second day, Sridevi Kalavakolanu, director of ethical sourcing for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., spoke up. "In most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories," Kalavakolanu was quoted as saying in the minutes of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press. "It is not financially feasible ... to make such investments."

The statement from the world's largest retailer, with $447 billion in annual revenue, essentially sucked the air out of the room, witnesses said. It also set the tone for the rest of the meeting, which ended the next day without a single company agreeing to the plan.

"I think that really had quite an impact on ... everybody who was in the room," said Ineke Zeldenrust, who was at the meeting representing the workers' rights group Clean Clothes Campaign. "It was quite clear that we were very far from a solution."

Text Only
Business
  • Long-term unemployed are still strong hires, study shows

    People who have been out of work for an extended period, once hired, tend to be just as productive on the job as those with more typical work histories, according to an analysis of almost 20,000 employees.

    April 4, 2014

  • CEMS groundbreaking CEMS holds groundbreaking

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cook Social Worker of Year.jpg Cook chosen as Public Social Worker of the Year

    Angel Cook of the Cullman County Health Department was selected as Public Health Social Worker of the Year for 2014. She was recognized March 7 at the Public Health Social Work Seminar held in Montgomery.
     

    March 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_google.jpg First Apple, now Google hit with kids' app lawsuit

    Last month, 4- and 5-year-old brothers in New York quickly spent $65.95 in real money to buy virtual goods in Marvel's Run Jump Splash game on the family tablet. They were able to rack up the charges without entering a password. And for that, the boys' mother has joined a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday against Google, accusing the company of deceiving consumers about its in-app purchase system, which critics say makes it too easy for kids to spend money on their Android devices.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Alfa honors Ford.jpg Alfa Insurance honors local agent

    Alfa Insurance Agent Whit Ford of West Point received the Distinguished Service Award – Bronze Level for 2013 during the company’s annual awards ceremony in Birmingham.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • biz_target.jpg Target seeks new technology head after data breach

    Target Corp., still reeling from a security breach that exposed the personal information of tens of millions of customers, is seeking a new top technology executive to help prevent future attacks.

    March 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140306-AMX-STAPLES6.jpg Staples to close 225 stores as online competition hurts sales

    Staples Inc., the largest U.S. office-supplies chain, will close as many as 12 percent of its North American stores and cut as much as $500 million in costs as online competition continues to hurt sales.

    March 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Five things you should know about the Netflix-Comcast deal

    Now Comcast and Netflix have announced that they will directly interconnect their networks, rather than having Netflix traffic flow first through a third-party network. With this, another layer of Internet architecture - interconnection and peering - is under the microscope.

    February 28, 2014

  • thomspon to relocate.jpg Kristin (Brown) Thompson with Strong LLC relocating to NYC to open new office

    Strong Advertising Agency, announced that Kristin, a 2007 Cullman High School graduate, has opened a new office in Manhattan and working in the New York/New Jersey area serving as the marketing contact for advertising clients for merchandising and creative content development. She began working at Strong, LLC in Birmingham as an Account Executive Assistant in 2012 and was promoted to Account Executive after 6 months of employment.
     

    February 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 01.jpg US News names its 'Best Cars for the Money'

    U.S. News & World Report Wednesday announced its annual Best Cars for the Money list on its Best Cars website.

    February 13, 2014 1 Photo