- - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dave Boyer’s recent piece on The Gap Inc.’s higher pay failing to reach overseas workers hit the nail on the head when it comes to corporate greed verses moral responsibility in the garment industry (“Despite Obama’s praise for higher pay, The Gap Inc. has spotty record on sweatshops,” Web, March 16).

President Obama’s praising of the retailer’s increase in U.S. employee wages is indicative either of a politician’s ignorance or indifference to the reality of the cost of human suffering in the real world of clothing manufacturing. I’d go for the latter.

Mr. Boyer rightly admonishes The Gap for ignoring its responsibilities for contractor sweatshops in Bangladesh, which are cheating workers out of meager wages while forcing them to work long hours under untenable conditions. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg in this tawdry part of the fashion industry.

In Cambodia just before Christmas 2013, more than half of an estimated 600,000 garment workers who toil for near-slave-labor wages in unsanitary and unhealthy working conditions went on strike.


These workers produce garments at some 500 factories for U.S. high-end apparel companies such as The Gap. These brands generate more than $5 billion a year in exports, primarily to the United States. The workers were demanding an increase from $80 a month to $160 a month in minimum wage.

To break up the protesters, the communist regime’s nouveau Khmer Rouge storm troops were sent into the Canadia Industrial Park, where they opened fire on the protesters with automatic weapons, killing five and wounding scores of others.

A few people were arrested and more than 100 people disappeared. One of the six companies operating in this park was the U.S.-South Korean-owned Yakjin factory.

In a Dec. 24, 2013, press release, the Carlyle Group announced that it had acquired a 100 percent stake in Yakjin Trading Corp. Carlyle is strategically located on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington.

Corporate America’s moral compass has gone off course.

MICHAEL BENGE

Falls Church