U.S. clothing chains do not support pact on Bangladesh reforms

From Brad Plumer:

Nearly all U.S. clothing chains, citing the fear of litigation, declined to sign an international pact ahead of a Wednesday deadline, potentially weakening what had been hailed as the best hope for bringing about major reforms in low-wage factories in Bangladesh.

Companies including Wal-Mart, Gap, Target and J.C. Penney had been pressed by labor groups to sign the document in the wake of last month’s factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed at least 1,127 people. More than a dozen European retailers did so. But U.S. companies feared the agreement would give labor groups and others the basis to sue them in court.

…Wal-Mart reiterated Wednesday that it would not sign the accord at this time, because it “introduces requirements, including governance and dispute resolution mechanisms, on supply chain matters that are appropriately left to retailers, suppliers and government, and are unnecessary to achieve fire and safety goals.”

…Most U.S. companies, however, balked at the language in the accord. Some said it would would expose them to excessive legal liability — particularly in America’s litigious courts. Written by labor groups, the agreement would require retailers who source clothing from Bangladesh to commit to pay for inspections, building upgrades and training — all enforced by binding arbitration.

Here is more.  Most likely, the damage done to Bangladesh will continue.  Note that the prospect of successful litigation was not what drove FDI into the 19th century United States, or twentieth century Singapore, to the point where wages rose significantly.


Comments for this post are closed