Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy

Latest Episodes

Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Tech

$40 million fund for victims of Bangladesh garment tragedy

Dan Weissmann Dec 24, 2013
Share Now on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Eight months ago, a clothing factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers, in the industry’s deadliest incident ever.  Now comes news that families of those workers will get some financial help. Four retailers that bought the factory’s clothes have agreed to pitch into a fund — paying out an average of 25,000 dollars per household.

How far would that go in a country where per capita income is $1,900 a year?  

Here’s a first bit of context, courtesy of Scott Nova, director of the Workers Rights Consortium.  If $1,900 sounds incredibly low to you, that’s actually a lot more than the victims were making.  

The workers who were killed were making about $600 or $700 a year,” he says.  

According to one recent study by his group and the Center for American Progress, Bangladesh has the world’s lowest wages for garment workers. Against numbers like that, a $25,000 payout looks a little bigger.  

Obviously it means more there than it does here,” Nova says.  “But at the same time it’s not going to make anybody wealthy, even in the Bangladeshi context.”

Especially because it’s going to be paid out over the lifetime of survivors. Every year the families will get about half of what the worker would have earned.

U.S. government have several calculators that peg the value of a human life here.  They start at $6 million.  

Individuals buying life insurance in the United States have to make their own calculations. Jack Dolan, a spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurers, cites advice from the financial planning industry. “They tend to say that a person should have seven to ten times their annual income in coverage,” he says.

In the end, a translation may not be possible, says Brad Adams, director for the Asia division of Human Rights Watch. “It’s so hard and some people would say almost pointless to compare the US to Bangladesh,” he says.

In the U.S., he points out, if your boss’ building fell down on you, your family would expect to be compensated.

In Bangladesh, there’s no such protection,” he says. “People are really in it all by themselves.”

In the absence of legal requirements, the companies involved in this agreement — retailers from France, Spain, Canada and Ireland — are all contributing voluntarily. 

Several big U.S. brands also did business with the factory:  Walmart, Children’s Place, JC Penney, Sears. 

At this point, none of them have volunteered to kick in anything.

If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air.  But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.

Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.

When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.

We’re counting on you today!

Marketplace helps you stay financially responsible all year, now we need YOUR help to keep our budget on track.
Donate NOW to help us hit our target of 2,500 Marketplace Investors by June 30!