This year’s International Workers Day coincides with ongoing fallout from the latest Bangladeshi factory accident, which killed at least 386 people when a garment factory collapsed.
The annual day celebrates the international labor movement. And this year it’s an especially poignant May 1st. As multinational corporations heed, or ignore, calls to demand better worker conditions in the poorly constructed and accident-prone factories, and as people revive talk of boycotting retailers like Wal-mart, what’s needed from consumers in the global north is not simply boycotts, writes Vijay Prashad.
Prashad, over at the Guardian, argues:
What is needed is robust support for the workers as they try to build their own organisations at the point of production. Pressure on north Atlantic governments that mollycoddle multinational firms would create a breathing space for workers who otherwise suffer the full wrath of firms that couch their repression in the syrupy language of hard work and growth rates.
The Bangladeshis are capable of doing their own labour organising; what they need is political backing to do so. What is also needed, then, is clear-cut opposition not to this or that retailer, but to the system that produces pockets of low-wage economies in the south in order to feed a system of debt-fuelled consumption in the north. None among us is against global connections, but it is high time we put our minds to work to reject neoliberal globalisation.
What is needed, in other words, is an international labor movement.