A Confined Commitment
Published: Friday, February 7, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 7, 2014 01:02
The world awoke to the startling conditions of Bangladeshi workers on April 24, 2013, when the Rama Plaza factory outside of Dhaka collapsed, trapping 1,127 laborers within its concrete rubble. In response, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was enacted in May 2013, establishing labor standards for all signatory factories and their corresponding brand-name companies in Bangladesh for five years.
Georgetown’s signature on this accord is only reinforced by University President John J. DeGioia’s commitment to the labor standards — an admirable step toward ensuring that Georgetown’s priorities result in partnering with businesses that embody this integrity and respect for human rights.
It is worth mentioning, however, the accord’s unfortunate specificity to Bangladesh, which is only one of Georgetown’s labor sources. It brings to light an inequity in university policy that merits reconsideration: Limiting this expanded commitment to worker safety in one country implies that the same official commitment isn’t necessary elsewhere. A similar commitment to humane conditions in every nation where Georgetown apparel is manufactured should be implemented quickly.
At the very least, the university’s labor standards should be equal across the board. The Licensing Oversight Committee has done a commendable job establishing a baseline of labor standards to use when contracting with manufacturers for licensed apparel, and the committee should continue to uphold these standards with equal weight in all countries.
With a student body, alumni network and faculty that all value service to others, supporting the safe livable conditions of workers who make our clothes is a pledge worthy of commitment without borders.