[Bangladeshi police officials stand guard outside burnt garment factory in the Savar neighborhood in Dhaka (AP Photo/ khurshed Rinku)]
At a meeting in April 2011, more than a dozen retailers including Wal-Mart, Gap, Target and JC Penney met in Dhaka to discuss safety at their supplier Bangladeshi garment factories. Bloomberg Newsrevealed minutes from this meeting Wednesday, which show that Wal-Mart nixed a plan that would require retailers to pay their suppliers enough to cover safety improvements.
Last month, a fire in a factory used by Wal-Mart killed 112 workers. There were no fire exits. Despite the fact that more than 700 Bangladeshi garment workers have died since 2005, Wal-Mart and Gap refused last year to pay higher costs for safety. Bloomberg cited comments from a document produced by Wal-mart’s director of ethical sourcing and a Gap official for the Dhaka meeting. It stated:
“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. It is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.”
Scott Nova, the executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium, commented on Bloomberg’s revelations to Josh Eidelson for the Nation. “No company that is unwilling to pay [factories] enough to make it possible for them to operate safely can claim to be interested in any way in the rights or safety of workers,” said Nova. He described Wal-Mart’s position in the Dhaka discussions as “1) We know these factories are unsafe. 2) We know it will cost substantial sums to make them safe. 3) We are not going to pay for this. 4) We are going to keep using the factories anyway.” Continue reading →
The courts have protected free speech for those who own the presses--like Bloomberg--not for the people who oppose the Bloombergs
By Bill Blum, Truthdig, November 16, 2011
From Oakland to Chapel Hill, from Portland to Zuccotti Park, the message to the Occupy movement is clear: It’s time to fold up your tents and retreat from the public square or be carted off to jail.
From coast to coast, protesters have responded to the edicts with largely passive physical resistance and, in some cities, court challenges rooted in the First Amendment and animated by the popular mythology surrounding the amendment’s depth and reach. The movement, we’re told, is shielded by the rights of freedom of speech and assembly and those rights trump whatever interests (whether legitimate or feigned) that municipalities may have in maintaining public health and safety.
It’s impossible at this early stage of the crackdown to predict how each local legal case will play out. Depending upon the precise wording of city ordinances, state statutes and the manner in which police raids are conducted, the Occupiers may score some litigation victories, such as the short-lived temporary restraining order issued by a state court judge after the early morning police attack Tuesday on Zuccotti Park in New York City. But most of the legal challenges are likely to end in defeat, as occurred in New York when another judge ruled after a lengthy hearing that the overnight camping must end even though protesters may return to the park. Continue reading →