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Another preventable factory fire takes the lives of Bangladeshi workers

November 26, 2012

Kalpona Akter of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity holds up Wal-Mart branded clothes in the wreckage of the Tazreen factory

A catastrophic factory fire at the Tazreen Fashion garment factory in Dhaka took the lives of over 112 workers on Saturday, November 24. What was reportedly an electrical malfunction appears to have been compounded by the factory’s lack of basic safety features like emergency exits, functioning fire extinguishers, and worker training.

Based on labels and documentation found in the factory, it appears as if the international brands producing clothing at the factory include Walmart, Sears, Kik, Dickies, Disney, Sean Combs, and Fashion Basics. To date C&A and Li & Fung, a Hong Kong based sourcing agent, have confirmed they were buying from the factory at the time of the fire.

The disaster at Tazreen Fashions was wholly preventable. Like so many Bangladeshi factory fires before it – fires that have claimed more than 700 lives since 2006 – the factory did not have secure, open fire exits, the building had extra floors added, fire extinguishers were just for show, and workers were never trained in fire evacuation procedures.

International and Bangladeshi labour rights organizations are demanding that brands:

  • Publicly confirm whether or not they were sourcing garments in the factory or with the owner, TUBA Group;
  • Investigate the circumstances of the fire and publish the results of their own audits;
  • Ensure adequate compensation for the victims and their families and medical treatment for those injured

Further, Bangladeshi and international trade unions and labour rights organizations, including MSN, have gained agreement with two major brands – PVH and Tchibo – to establish a comprehensive fire and building safety program for Bangladesh. The program will include independent and transparent inspections, mandatory repairs of building deficiencies, a review of all existing laws and safety regulations, a commitment by brands to pay prices that can cover the costs involved and the direct involvement of trade unions in worker training on health and safety.

We are calling on other major apparel brands sourcing goods in Bangladesh take their responsibilities seriously and help prevent future disasters by joining this program immediately.

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