It is tragic. I don’t think something like this will happen again. Don’t think that the people in Bangladesh who perished didn’t want or need those jobs, as well. I know we like to victimize everyone in this country, particularly when it comes to for-profit motivation, which is being assaulted. But, you know, it is a tragedy but I think it is a stretch, an amazing stretch, to sort of try to pin this on Walmart but, of course, the unions in this country are desperate.Let's take this line by line.
"It is tragic." Said in an offhanded "let's get this out of the way so I'm not accused of being heartless" way.
"I don’t think something like this will happen again." Actually, it happens a lot. Hundreds of garment workers in Bangladesh have been killed in fires in recent years. In fact, at least 10 people were injured in another garment factory fire Monday. It's true that a fire killing more than 100 people is rare, if that's what Payne means by "something like this," but if he just means a fatal fire in a Bangladeshi garment factory, then yeah, it's going to happen again unless there are big, big changes in labor and workplace safety laws there.
"Don’t think that the people in Bangladesh who perished didn’t want or need those jobs, as well." Well, Charles, people need jobs. But the thing is, "I need this job" and "I look forward to choosing between burning to death or jumping out of an eight-story building to escape burning to death" are two very different things. "I need this job" should not be a license for exploitation. In fact, garment workers have been fighting to improve working conditions even though by law they are not allowed to unionize, unlike many other workers in Bangladesh. Though the minimum wage for garment workers is now just $38 a month, less than two thirds of the country's per capita income, that $38 represents a big increase that workers protested and fought for this year. Yes, these workers need jobs, but their fight to make those jobs better, and the large protests they've staged in the wake of this fire, show that it's not as simple as "well, they need jobs, so let them burn."
"I know we like to victimize everyone in this country, particularly when it comes to for-profit motivation, which is being assaulted." Victimize? Let's talk about victims. Like the at least 112 victims of this fire in which there were no fire extinguishers, exits were inadequate or even locked, and one manager reportedly told people to get back to work after a fire alarm sounded. I'm pretty sure they, and not the profit motive, are the victims here.
"But, you know, it is a tragedy but I think it is a stretch, an amazing stretch, to sort of try to pin this on Walmart but, of course, the unions in this country are desperate." In the wake of this fire, it kind of defies belief how many companies whose clothes were found in the burned factory have said their clothes shouldn't have been there anymore, that, yes, they'd used that factory in the past but had stopped just in time to deny that their clothes should have been there. Amazing. So no, it's not just Walmart. It's also Sears and Dickies and Ikea and who knows what other companies. But as the largest retailer in the world, Walmart does more than any other company to set prices and labor conditions for manufacturers.
Really, Payne might as well have said, "I realize I'm supposed to say this is tragic, but I'm a little confused about why I'm supposed to think the tragedy is the loss of more than 100 lives and not the potential threat to Walmart's profits."