Less than two weeks ago Michael Fallon gave an undertaking that "[UK Government] will look at what responsibility can be put on retailers" in response to the Dhaka factory tragedy, where it is now thought 800 people will have lost their lives.
The tragedy pricked the conscience of some of the UK public and some of those buyers who appeared to have been pursuing a low price (/high human cost) sourcing strategy. Supplier audits and risk assessments became a topic of conversation for a few days. Unfortunately, as more domestic stories occupied our news headlines the working conditions in Bangladesh become less topical and the cost of low price clothes, like cheap T-shirts, fades. It does not have the same memory joggers as the daily decisions we make regarding the authenticity of the meat we buy which remind us of the horse meat debacle. Indeed even the Bangladeshi Finance Minister appeared to trivialise the significance of the 800 deaths.
But Michael Fallon did give an undertaking about responsibility and there is surely an obligation on him to make clear what he actually did do and what the outcome was. Two weeks is quite a long time in politics and the rhetoric changes. But in Bangladesh there are families who will never forget that buyer deadlines contributed to death, maiming and loss of income. To make matters worse we have now learnt of more deaths in another Dhaka factory as a result of a fire with at least eight deaths.
Doesn't this put in context yesterday's blog on low spec uniforms?
Now may be a good time for Michael Fallon and those in the retail industry to let us know what preventative actions they took?