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Fire Kills More Than 100 At Bangladeshi Garment Factory

Fire swept through a garment factory owned by Tazreen Fashion in the Ashulia industrial belt near Bangladesh’ capital city in a scene reminiscent of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire which struck New York in 1911. So far, one hundred twenty-five people have been confirmed killed.

According to fire services Operations Director Maj. Mohammad Mahbub “The factory had three staircases, and all of them were down through the ground floor. So the workers could not come out when the fire engulfed the building. Had there been at least one emergency exit through outside the factory, the casualties would have been much lower.”

As with the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, many people jumped to avoid the fire. Others got onto the roof where they were able to be rescued. Unfortunately, there were many who were trapped inside and perished in the flames.

Bangladesh’s garment manufacturers provide 80% of the worlds ready made garments including brands for Tesco, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Kohl’s and Carrefour.

The factory claimed to have fire extinguishers, fire fighters, and fire fighting equipment on hand should a blaze happen; however, none of that materialized during the blaze. Paramilitary border guards, military units, and police had to be deployed to help keep the situation under control. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her shock at the situation as the death toll continues to rise.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has said that they will stand with the garment workers and their families.

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One Response to Fire Kills More Than 100 At Bangladeshi Garment Factory

  1. International Labor Rights Forum

    November 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement:

    Bangladeshi and international unions and labor rights organizations have initiated an independent fire and building safety program to minimize the risk of future deadly factory fires like those that have recently taken the lives of hundreds of garment workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Unlike corporate-controlled monitoring systems, the program will include independent inspections by trained fire safety experts with public reporting of the results. Brands will be required to offer supplier contracts with sufficient financing and adequate pricing to allow for necessary renovations and other preventative measures. Brands will also be required to cease doing business with any supplier that refuses to make needed repairs and operate safely. To effectively implement the program, there will be a central role for workers and unions and a binding contract to make the commitments enforceable. Currently, PVH Corp. (owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein) and major German retailer Tchibo have signed onto the agreement. Thus far, other major buyers from Bangladesh including Walmart, Gap and H&M have failed to join the program. Labor rights groups are calling on these brands to join the independent Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement to protect the lives of the workers who make their clothing.

    Tell Gap to Protect Their Workers: ilrf.org/gappetition