However, Exporters Association of Bangladesh president Abdus Salam Murshedy said that Bangladesh “already has world-class factories ... some buyers just avoid placing orders there to maximize their profits.”
The trouble is, “consumers are never really presented [with] the real relationship between cheap clothes and labor abuses and health and safety standards, because of marketing, branding,” said Anne Elizabeth Moore, an award-winning author.
“Buyers really aren’t motivated to care about labor issues unless they’re going for the altruism dollar, which is a long shot,” Moore, who has written extensively on the global garment industry, told media.
The recent accident in Bangladesh “is pressuring all companies, whether they were in that building or not, to tighten their supply chain — which is good,” said one Hong Kong-based manager with a global fashion brand who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“But ultimately buyers cannot go in and change the system in Bangladesh. [The government] needs to take responsibility,” the manager said, adding that unlike Vietnam, Dhaka neither imposes a standard annual minimum wage increase nor allows garment workers to unionize.
Unless standards improve, Dhaka should realize that its cash-cow industry — which accounts for about 80 percent of export earnings — is at risk, she said.
“A lot of buyers are looking into Myanmar, Kenya, Ethiopia. They don’t see Bangladesh as a long-term hub anymore ... there are too many problems,” she added.