The Oct. 24 editorial “Unraveling a peril,” about garment-factory safety in Bangladesh, rightly pointed out that boycotting the retailers that use Bangladeshi factories means abandoning a $22 billion sector that supports nearly 4 million people.
This industry serves as a critical pathway out of poverty for millions of workers, 80 percent of whom are women, and fuels Bangladesh’s economic growth. That is why the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a coalition of 26 U.S. brands, has undertaken a massive effort to improve safety and support workers in these factories rather than moving operations elsewhere.
The alliance has inspected all 587 factories from which our members source their products, fully or partially closing 19 factories deemed unsafe. We have trained more than 1 million workers in fire safety and compensated workers displaced by factory repairs. Our members have made more than $100 million in low-cost capital available to fund remediation, and the hard work of improving factories is now underway.
The government of Bangladesh, global businesses and civil society must remain steadfast in the commitment to see this mission accomplished. The worst thing we could do is abandon the Bangladesh garment industry when our opportunity to deliver lasting change has never been greater.
Ellen O. Tauscher, Washington
The writer, a former U.S. representative from California, is the chair of the board of directors of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.