Thursday, May 09, 2013

Pay 2p extra per teeshirt to save workers lives

Check out the TUC website Going to Work and the campaign it is running with LabourStart to make Garment factories in Bangladesh safe.

They point out that the people responsible for poverty wages and very poor safety standards are not consumers in the UK looking for bargain clothes but the global brands and retailers who set prices and therefore wage rates and safety standards.

If the £27 per month wages of these workers were to be doubled this would only cost an extra 2p per tee shirt sold in the UK. They would then not be so desperate for work regardless of conditions. Effective health and safety at work would cost even less. Especially if free trade unions were allowed in Bangladesh who could drive up safety standards.

All pension fund trustees should be scrutinising their fund managers about what they are doing to make sure that any investments they hold in any part of the garment supply chain (not just factories and shops but also finance, raw materials, construction, design, transport and insurances) act responsibly and make sure all workers are properly paid and safe. This is not just a matter affecting Bangladesh.

We have factories making Apple iPADS in China who treat their workers so badly that they have to put up suicide nets around high buildings.

Trustees own these assets on behalf of their beneficiaries and must take personal responsibility for what is done in their name and on their behalf. It is also a given in my book that investments in well managed companies that to not allow their supply chain workforce to be killed, do not employ child labour, do not bribe local officials nor destroy the environment - will produce superior long term returns for the pension fund.

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