Unacceptable conditions

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I write in response to the horrific tragedy in Bangladesh and our collective complicity in that tragedy.

As we know, more than 300 people were killed when the garment factory they worked in collapsed.

Only five months ago, another 112 Bangladeshis were killed when the garment factory they worked in caught fire.

Both garment factories were housed in criminally unsafe buildings and the workers employed in hideously unsafe working conditions.

Assuming they were paid the minimum wage, these workers’ take-home pay was roughly $38 a month. I say to you that neither these buildings nor these working conditions would be legal in Canada, let alone tolerated.

Therein lies our complicity as a nation.

Both factories produced clothing for well-known Canadian retailers.

Indeed, some of the clothing produced in these very factories, or in countless others just like them in developing nations, is likely in the closets of my home.

So I ask, why is clothing legally available for sale in Canada when produced under labour conditions that would be illegal in Canada?

Are we, as a nation, saying that, although unacceptable for us, these labour conditions are acceptable for “those people”?

Have we, as a nation, compromised our long-held values of decency and justice in exchange for inexpensive clothing? I pray that we have not.

I may be in the minority, but I am quite willing to pay a significantly higher price for clothing so as not to exploit my fellow human being.

Every human being deserves to earn a livable wage and to earn that wage in safe working conditions.

Therefore, I ask the federal government to take the appropriate legislative action to ensure that all goods sold in Canada are produced under labour conditions we Canadians would accept for ourselves.

Mark Nichols


Geographic location: Canada, Bangladesh

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Recent comments

  • Political Watcher
    May 13, 2013 - 06:20

    David, you seem very quick to jump on any opposing view to your comments. Before you jump on mine, please go through you house and see that everything in it has a Made in Canada or the US label on it. If so, I accept your opposition, if not, you can line up behind the other hypocrites who enjoy jumping on bandwagons without looking at themselves first.

  • Paul Rideout
    May 11, 2013 - 19:28

    Excellent letter Mr. Nichols.

  • david
    May 11, 2013 - 12:13

    Greed was not invented by corporations. Individual people, using their own free minds and value systems, want and seek out "3 shirts for $9.99" and "slacks for $14.99"........let he who has not shopped cast the first stone. BTW....if there is ANY point to a discussion of "blame", why isn't it that our governments confiscate, steal, waste and give away so much of everyone's hard-earned money that it leaves each of us desperate, penny-pinching misers?

    • SALE
      May 16, 2013 - 10:12

      Good point David. All the do gooders are quick to take a smack at corporations and their zest for greed. How about the greed of Public Sector unions and their members? How about our political system which fosters a sense of entitlement among those who have no qualm with wasting hard earned tax dollars on unaffordable social programs and a bloated public service?

  • saelcove
    May 11, 2013 - 10:34

    Their own government is at fault no one else, lax building codes and corruption

    • david
      May 11, 2013 - 12:18

      Pretty slick, dismissive quip. Clean, contained, easy. Now it's off to the mall!

  • Cyril Rogers
    May 11, 2013 - 09:34

    In a world essentially controlled by the corporate sector and where the mantra of free trade is sacrosanct, this is the norm and incidents like this are bound to happen periodically. Like you, Mark, I am will to pay significantly higher prices for quality clothing but finding anything made in Canada in our stores....is next to impossible. We have shot ourselves in the foot when it comes to producing products for ourselves....because of so-called more competitive products from overseas. The reality is that many of these products are poorly designed, including clothing, and we simply discard them after a short time. We lost our manufacturing sector when the full impact of NAFTA kicked in, although it took several years for that to happen. Getting it back is next to impossible so now we sell our raw materials to countries who turn it into products that we pay much more for...in the form of imports. Go figure! Just like our raw fish products! Right?

    • david
      May 11, 2013 - 12:22

      Though it serves your conscience and your self-esteem to glibly declare that corporations invented and perfected the 'art' of greed, it is the refuge of the guilty, the dishonest or the foolish. Which one are you?