Workers’ lives are cheap

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We learned recently of the Bangladesh disaster where fires and the collapse of garment factories have taken the lives of hundreds of young workers, mostly women, leaving only their charred bodies. Hundreds of others injured.

We know now that these buildings were built by big companies without permits or inspection and on unstable ground. Their products, made by slave labour working 12 hours a day at $38 a month, were purchased by big Canadian companies and sold at huge profits here in St. John’s.

This total disregard for the welfare and the lives of human beings is reminiscent of the way big business in our province treated our fishermen, miners and sealers.

Our people starved and died while working in the mines, on the water and on the ice, trying to seek out a living, while the merchants made huge profits.

Even in the 1940s, the big companies oppressed our workers by forcing the military bases in this province to pay our men and women 20 per cent less than their American civilians working side by side with them.

Big companies in this province, many represented by the St. John’s Board of Trade, should hang their heads in shame.

Is there really any difference between Bangladesh and Newfoundland and Labrador?

Tom Mills

St. John’s

Organizations: Board of Trade

Geographic location: Bangladesh, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Herb Morrison
    May 08, 2013 - 15:31

    Well-said, mr. Mills. How many times did my late Father-in-Law, who was born, raised, and laboured in the inshore fishery in Trinity Bay, speak of the manner in which the Merchants got rich on the backs of the fishermen who caught the fish, and the women who worked on the flaks, in outport communities, recieving a pittence for their labour. This was not 100 years ago either. So the comparison between the Bangladesh workers and Newfoundlanders involved in the fishery, is a valid comparison. more recently companies like FPI, raped the fish resource to near extinction, before pulling up stakes and leaving a huge nimber of people involved in the fishing industry, with little or nothing. People involved in the fishery today continue to fight so that they are not exploited, like their ancestors of days gone by. Its' a recurring theme.

  • Harold
    May 08, 2013 - 13:55

    good job Tom Mills. the proof is out there for anyone who can read and do a little research. Jason, it's comments like your's and people like you that hold people back from working in decent living conditions. read some of the books written by Earl B. Pilgrim and you will see what it was like trying to survive in Newfoundland , not that many years ago, when the merchants had control.

  • Corporate Psycho
    May 07, 2013 - 19:54

    Mr. Mills, Richard Alexander is nothing but a union buster.

  • Jason
    May 07, 2013 - 17:21

    How do these two things compare? Are you comparing fishing and sealing 100 years ago to current conditions in Bangladesh? Doesn't seem to be an accurate way of measuring things. But of course that's the way you are comparing them, fishing is the most lucrative and joke of a job that was ever created, working 2 months a year and sitting around the rest collecting EI from the tax payers. What a joke of a job.

  • Christopher Chafe
    May 07, 2013 - 07:48

    Only in NL would you have a fisherperson compared to a sweatshop worker.