First, it was the Koreans, or was it the Taiwanese, who undercut everyone producing cheap goods for the rich global north.
They were followed by the growth story that was Indonesia, where branded goods were created in battery like conditions by human beings who were treated no better than hens laying eggs for supermarket chains.
And then came the Chinese miracle, where poor peasants worked endless hours in conditions that no one from the outside world was ever allowed to see, flooding western markets with ever cheaper goods.
Now, it’s the turn of Bangladesh, the Third World nation that will go that much lower, push their desperately poor workers that much further to produce goods for brands like Lee Cooper, and the Arcadia owned BHS.
It’s a given that child labour is employed, its a given that the poor mainly women are expected to worked impossibly long hours to meet deadlines and targets set by companies who are answerable only to the shareholders, and who clearly turn a blind eye to Dickensian work conditions.
When a building called the Rana Plaza collapsed in Dacca, more than a thousand souls perished under the rubble. Like 9/11, it was a completely avoidable disaster, but unlike the attacks on the twin towers the world did not take action to find and punish the culprits.
Instead, things have largely continued as before, as last night’s EXPOSURE programme on ITV showed. Sure, there have been closures and punishments, but it won’t do. It won’t do when weak women – often too tired or frightened to speak – are kicked for not standing straight by supervisors who think it’s their given right to mistreat workers because they have been set impossibly difficult deadlines by multi billion dollar companies who employ the cheapest possible labour through using middle men and fixers.
Bangladesh is proud of its textile industry and the chances are the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ label will be the most familiar one to anyone buying goods in the west – after of course that of China. No doubt in the future, there will be another nation that will go that much lower, push their workers that much harder to meet ever tighter deadlines for the cheapest possible price. And it’s a state of affairs the ‘World’ does not seem able or willing to do anything about.
ANALYSIS – If a recent rally is to be believed, the former cricketer Imran Khan is emerging as a serious challenger on the Pakistani political scene.
During an interview with ITV News last night, Imran Khan said the current president Asif Ali Zardari was completely discredited and that his own appeal was among the young.
He was not concerned about his own safety, given the bloody nature of Pakistani politics – he was prepared to make any sacrifice to save his country.
The camera shots from the point of view of the reporter – Mark Austin – revealed a very agitated Imran.
There are clearly things he wanted to say and do, once he gets his chance.
Trouble is, Pakistan has had too many saviours, Zardari was also one such figure.
What this still young nation needs is someone who will spread the wealth evenly to the rest of the population, so that everyone gets the chance – like Imran himself – to shine.