Responding to the Bangladesh garment factory collapse

Above: Global National has the latest on how Canadians are reacting to the collapse of a garment factory building in Bangladesh.

TORONTO – The death toll continues to rise after an eight-story factory collapsed in Bangladesh Wednesday, with close to 400 workers confirmed dead, and many more still trapped under layers of concrete and metal debris.

The day before the collapse, deep cracks in the walls of Rana Plaza were reported. Police ordered an evacuation, and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association asked the factories to suspend work starting Wednesday morning, hours before the collapse. “After we got the crack reports, we asked them to suspend work until further examination, but they did not pay heed,” said Atiqul Islam, the group’s president.

But as the rescue effort continues past 72-hour mark, attention will swiftly shift from tending to the injured to why this happened in the first place.

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But answering the question of “who is to blame” is a controversial question, complicated by tiers of capitalism, trade and definitions of responsibility.

Yes, the factories ignored police orders and stayed open. The building owner also appears to have violated local building regulations, building three stories higher than the legal five-story limit.

But this factory is not much different than approximately 4,000 others that make up form the backbone of Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry.

Many of these factories’ non-unionized employees earn an average of 18 cents an hour making clothes for such prominent brands as Canadian-owned Joe Fresh.

Some of these companies argue they aren’t responsible for the factories subcontracted to do this work; moreover, they say they’re merely catering to consumer demand for cheap clothes. Other labour rights groups say a few extra pennies per shirt could be enough to improve working conditions.

So, where do you think the responsibility ultimately lies?

Let us know in the comments section below, on our Facebook page or on Twitter using the hashtag #globalreax

With files from Global News’ Heather Loney and The Associated Press

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