Bangladesh and accidents

Talking about the collapse of a building in Bangladesh that killed more than 5oo garment workers, we get this:

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith …

During a visit to New Delhi, Muhith said the disaster would not harm Bangladesh’s garment industry, which is India’s biggest source of export income.

‘‘The present difficulties . . . well, I don’t think it is really serious — it’s an accident,’’ he said. ‘‘And the steps that we have taken in order to make sure that it doesn’t happen, they are quite elaborate and I believe that it will be appreciated by all.’’

The government made similar promises after a garment factory fire five months ago that killed 112, saying it would inspect factories for safety and pull the licenses of those that failed. That plan has yet to be implemented.

Asked if he was worried that foreign retailers might pull orders from his country, Muhith said he wasn’t: ‘‘These are individual cases of . . .  accidents. It happens everywhere.’’

To put this in perspective:

Wages aside, working conditions in Bangladesh’s rag trade are notoriously brutal and unsafe. The country is now the world’s second-largest apparel supplier, behind only China. Yet many garment factories fall short of Bangladesh’s own building codes. Two years ago, 29 people were killed and 100 injured in a fire at a factory manufacturing clothes for Gap Inc. A fire in November in a textile factory producing goods for Walmart and Sears Holdings Corp. killed 112 people. Managers in that blaze told workers to stay put when fire alarms went off.

In one sense I think Muhith is right, as long as Bangladesh is cheap garment factories will flock there unless something fundamental changes.

As an aside, it seems that Muhith is a soul-mate of Rand Paul. Here he is talking about the West Virginia mining accident:

We had a mining accident that was very tragic,” he said. “Then we come in, and it’s always someone’s fault. Maybe sometimes accidents happen.”

and here he is talking about the oil spill in the Gulf:

“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,’ ” Mr. Paul said, echoing a remark made by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar early on. “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it’s part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.”

Really, why does everyone blame the company when these types of things happen?

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