According to an estimate provided by the Worker Rights Consortium, it could be as little as 10 cents per article of clothing. The group comes to this figure by estimating that building renovation, safety equipment installation, and other related costs would come to about $3 billion, which is says is a high estimate that assumes virtually all factory buildings need major renovations, as some may not. Spreading that cost over five years, it comes to $600 million each year, and tacking 10 cents on to each of the roughly 7 billion garments exported from the country each year would easily cover that cost. After the initial investment in renovations, the group says the costs of maintenance will drop significantly.
Even on a Walmart budget, would anyone notice a difference of ten cents on a price tag? This is perhaps more negligible than adding fourteen cents to Papa John Schnatter's pizza thanks to the burden
of providing health insurance to employees.
But it may not be as simple as companies investing more in building renovations and fire extinguishers. As Pietra Rivoli, a professor of international business, told ThinkProgress, one of the biggest barriers to safe working conditions is a political infrastructure in Bangladesh that can properly monitor workers and their employers. “In the U.S. we have things like building codes and occupancy permits,” she pointed out. “What’s missing in Bangladesh is that local political infrastructure.”
Eh. West, Texas
begs to differ. Having said that, I happen to live in the 'liberal wasteland' of New York City that values life. The other day workers were powerwashing the rooftop HVAC units of a restaurant less than a hundred feet from my apartment building. Apparently this is by code required regularly, to prevent grease fires. The restaurant is going strong and seems able to absorb these outrageous costs. I bet they even have adequate insurance
The response from many large retailers so far has been to pull production from the country altogether. The Walt Disney Company has already announced that it will end production in Bangladesh, and other retailers may follow suit. That could devastate the country’s economy and make life even more difficult for its garment workers. Other Western retailers have indicated that they will instead invest in operations in Bangladesh and look at new plans for factory safety, but so far most of the money pledged will be for relief efforts and few have committed to upgrading factories or tougher inspections.
And where will they pull their operations to? Another country with no regulations and dangerous factories?