To the editor:
Yesterday I was reading a book I picked up at the Westbank Library by an author I had never read before. The book is called Outrage, written by Robert K. Tanenbaum (a good crime mystery by the way).
In the story two young Jewish men preparing their final report for their bar mitzvah have chosen to interview an older Jewish man who spent time in a concentration camp in Germany during the Second World War. During the interview the man quotes Martin Niemoller, a German mister and philosopher: “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when the came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
Last night I was watching Global News and The National and was shocked when I saw the aftermath of the fire in a Bangladesh sweatshop that claimed over 100 lives. I thought to myself, someone should really do something about that.
Bing, the light bulb went on. The only people who can force a change in the deplorable working and living conditions of those workers are you and me, the consumers. The workers risk their lives daily for $45 a month because nobody speaks for them.
What would happen if all of us in Kelowna would do one simple thing? Look at the label before you purchase an item. If it is made in Bangladesh call the clerk over and say, “I refuse to buy this product until the store improves wages, living conditions and worker safety in Bangladesh.”
Better yet, take the item to customer service and ask to speak to the manager and say, “I refuse to shop in your store until the company improves wages, living conditions and worker safety in Bangladesh.”
Then walk out.
If the majority of us do that and spread the word across Canada, very soon the owners of the big box stores will panic and bow to the almighty dollar.
Think of the ripple effect if the majority of people in North America followed our lead. If we could force the big box stores in North America to cut their billions of dollars in profits by just a few per cent we could save thousands of lives and improve the lives of millions. Maybe, just maybe, the governments in China and India would be watching. Do you think they would risk the hundreds of billions of dollars in exports for a couple of million?
We can change the world. We are the end of the line in the manufacturing and textile industry. We have the power.