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Marni Soupcoff

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The Week In Review: Will Loblaw Let Thoughts of Bangladesh Fade Away?

Posted: 05/05/2013 1:47 am

In the aftermath of the deadly Bangladesh factory collapse, Loblaw has been admirably vocal about its plans to compensate victims' families and to make checking the structural integrity of factory buildings part of its future audits of suppliers. (Loblaw owns Joe Fresh, which had clothing made for it at the collapsed factory.) However, the problem of unsafe labour conditions for global garment workers is far bigger than one apparel company, which is why the conversation on HuffPost quickly turned to broader long-term solutions.

Most of our bloggers were in general agreement that a boycott of Bangladesh would do more harm than good. As Peter Fragiskatos put it, "the plight of garment workers -- as bad as it is -- would be even worse back in the rural villages where so many of them once lived." A more useful course of action might be that championed by Kevin Thomas: urging companies such as Loblaw to participate in a comprehensive, independent fire and safety inspection program in Bangladesh rather than relying on company-controlled audits.

How realistic is this? Obviously no business is going to make a decision that destroys its profitability. But the fact that PVH Corp, the company that owns Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, has chosen to take the independent inspection route in Bangladesh suggests that it's not an unworkably expensive choice. Certainly, the reputational harm a company experiences from being associated with the preventable death and injury of workers isn't exactly cost-free itself. So beyond the obvious moral reasons for making this kind of change, there's a market argument to made for getting it right as well.

The interesting part of this story will come in a few months, once the news cycle has moved on from the disaster in Dakha. Will Loblaw have the fortitude to get out there and remind us all of the disturbing incident in order to update us on the details of its follow-through -- exactly how much compensation it has given to whom, and in what precise ways its audits have changed? Or will it be content to let its customers' thoughts of the collapse quietly fade away, as they are bound to do? I think we'll be able to tell a lot more about the company from that answer than we can from its immediate post-tragdey PR strategy.


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  • Bangladeshi garment workers set fire to furniture from a police control room during a protest against the collapse of an eight-story building that housed several garment factories and poor working conditions of the employees, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, April 27, 2013. Police in Bangladesh took into custody five people in connection with the collapse of a shoddily-constructed building that collapsed this week, as rescue workers pulled out 19 survivors out of the rubble on Saturday and vowed to continue as long as necessary to find others despite fading hopes. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

  • Bangladeshi policemen walk after chasing garment workers protesting against the collapse of an eight-story building that housed several garment factories and their employees, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, April 27, 2013. Police in Bangladesh took into custody five people in connection with the collapse of a shoddily-constructed building that collapsed this week, as rescue workers pulled out 19 survivors out of the rubble on Saturday and vowed to continue as long as necessary to find others despite fading hopes. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

  • A Bangladeshi Muslim rescue worker prays on the rubble of a building that collapsed Wednesday in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, April 27, 2013. Police in Bangladesh arrested two owners of a garment factory in a shoddily-constructed building that collapsed this week, killing at least 324 people, as protests spread to a second city Saturday with hundreds of people throwing stones and setting fire to vehicles. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • A girl cries for her missing mother at the site of the garment building factory that collapsed Wednesday in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, April 27, 2013. Police in Bangladesh took five people into custody in connection with the collapse of a shoddily-constructed building this week, as rescue workers pulled 19 survivors out of the rubble on Saturday and vowed to continue as long as necessary to find others despite fading hopes. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • Women carry portraits of missing relatives at the site of the garment factory building that collapsed Wednesday, in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, April 27, 2013. Police in Bangladesh took five people into custody in connection with the collapse of a shoddily-constructed building this week, as rescue workers pulled 19 survivors out of the rubble on Saturday and vowed to continue as long as necessary to find others despite fading hopes. (AP Photo/Ismail Ferdous)

  • A man watches while rescue workers search for survivors at a garment factory building that collapsed Wednesday in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, April 27, 2013. Police in Bangladesh took five people into custody in connection with the collapse of a shoddily-constructed building this week, as rescue workers pulled 19 survivors out of the rubble on Saturday and vowed to continue as long as necessary to find others despite fading hopes.(AP Photo/Ismail Ferdous)

  • A Bangladeshi man holds a picture of a relative missing in a building that collapsed Wednesday hold pictures of loved ones at a makeshift morgue in a schoolyard in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, April 27, 2013. Police in Bangladesh arrested two owners of a garment factory in a shoddily-constructed building that collapsed this week, killing at least 324 people, as protests spread to a second city Saturday with hundreds of people throwing stones and setting fire to vehicles. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • A Bangladeshi rescue worker directs others as they search in the rubble of a building that collapsed Wednesday in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, April 27, 2013. Police in Bangladesh arrested two owners of a garment factory in a shoddily-constructed building that collapsed this week, killing at least 324 people, as protests spread to a second city Saturday with hundreds of people throwing stones and setting fire to vehicles. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • Relatives mourn a victim at the site where an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. The building collapsed near Bangladesh's capital Wednesday morning, killing dozens of people and trapping many more in the rubble, officials said. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • People and rescuers gather after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Dozens were killed and many more are feared trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • People and rescuers gather after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Dozens were killed and many more are feared trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • Rescuers assist an injured woman after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Dozens were killed and many more are feared trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • Rescue workers carry a victim's body after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Dozens were killed and many more are feared trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • Rescue workers look for survivors after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Dozens were killed and many more are feared trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • A man who was trapped in an collapsed eight-story building housing several garment factories is reccued in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Dozens were killed and many more are feared trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • Rescue workers pull a woman out from the rubbles after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Dozens were killed and many more are feared trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • Rescue workers and people look for survivors after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Dozens were killed and many more are feared trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • Relatives mourn a victim at the site after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Dozens were killed and many more are feared trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • Rescuers carry a woman after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Dozens were killed and many more are feared trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • Rescue workers carry a young victim's body after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Dozens were killed and many more are feared trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • Rescue workers use pieces of clothes to bring down a survivor after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. The building collapsed near Bangladesh's capital Wednesday morning, killing dozens of people and trapping many more in the rubble, officials said. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • A man who was trapped in an eight-story building housing several garment factories is rescued after the structure collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. The building collapsed near Bangladesh's capital Wednesday morning, killing dozens of people and trapping many more in the rubble, officials said. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

  • Rescue workers use clothes to bring down survivors and bodies after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. The building collapsed near Bangladesh's capital Wednesday morning, killing dozens of people and trapping many more in the rubble, officials said. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)

 

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