Worthy of a Good Life

Living in a ‘home’ made of bamboo, rope and corrugated iron… barely large enough to hold a bed for the two people who live there. Working for less than $70 per month this is the life of the better-off factory workers in Bangladesh.

When we walk into Coles and buy a ceramic bowl for $3 or a Kmart T-Shirt for $5 or practically anything else in any of our stores these days (even most of the food products) we’re contributing to the lives of the workers of Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, Korea, China, et al.

People will argue that without the work these people would be worse off.

I’d argue that the 1,127 people who died in a factory collapse in April 2013 are not better off. Their dead. They join the 500 who died in a factory fire five years ago and the countless other undocumented and under-reported cases throughout the “third world”. They join the countless who are maimed, blinded and otherwise injured making products for the western world.

I can’t help but to think that things would be different if these people were white. If the dead looked like us it seems we’d care more. That is our disgrace.

We need to get to a point where we have a world government. People would argue that we’ll open the world to the ultimate corruption, but really we already have that, it’s just we’re allowed to look away and say “that’s not our problem, the country should look after their people better”.

Our corporations are taking absolute advantage and only we can do something about it. They won’t stop selling you t-shirts for $5, for which they pay less than $1. They won’t stop paying so little to the factories, who then in turn pay so little to their workers.

Of course it’s not good enough for our businesses to pay more to the factories because you’d be giving more money to factory owners who forced workers at gunpoint to remain at their machines while the factory collapses around them, all to ensure they could meet the strenuous timeframes and costs set by Kmart, Cotton On, Top Shop and the others that make their clothes in these places. It’s unlikely that without oversight, which seems non-existent in these countries, that we’ll see anything change in the near future.

Feature image above “BANGLADESH-BUILDING” by Coolloud, Creative Commons – Flickr

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