Saturday, January 08, 2005

Fire

The ready-made-garments industry bigwigs have been sounding off about the impact of the removal of quotas in 2005. There's been a lot of false confidence about how the industry will compete with China and India. Ignore the bravado. Expect to see hundreds of thousands of women out of a job by 2007.
We all support industrialisation as it is the way forward to lift this country out of poverty. But the nature of the business owners becomes apparent when you read about a factory fire where the women workers were not able to escape because the doors were locked. The management are not interested in checking if the fire extinguishers work or not (assuming there are some) and do not provide alternative routes of escape.
At the same time, we hear that the factories are trying to follow 'codes of conduct' in line with Western consumer demands.
Well, 22 workers died yesterday and others are badly burnt. Will there be any compensation?
Owners need to make profits and their margins are definitely being squeezed by foreign buyers. But there are lots of businessmen who do not pay their workers for months at a time and are callous about their workforces.
And yet the women want to work in these factories because this is their only hope. We cannot or seems do not want to have a human face to industrialisation. The Victorian world disappeared in London but it moved over here and is alive and kicking in 2005.

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