Bangladesh: Three Months After Tazreen Fire, Little Change

Solidarity Center

The Tazreen Fashion factory, where at least 112 workers died in multi-story fire. Photo: OSHE

February 20, 2013—Three months after at least 112 workers died in the Tazreen Fashion factory fire, dangerous and deadly working conditions are commonplace for the nearly 2 million Bangladeshi garment workers, who have little recourse than to take jobs that may kill them.

Despite international outrage and local promises to improve workplace safety, at least 37 fire and fire-related incidents have occurred in Bangladeshi garment factories since the Nov. 24 Tazreen tragedy, according to data compiled by Solidarity Center staff in Bangladesh. Nine more people have lost their lives at work and more than 650 garment workers have been injured. The Solidarity Center in the capital, Dhaka, has received reports that underage workers were injured at one factory fire incident.

February 20, World Day of Social Justice, highlights the necessity of promoting decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all. Despite a global outcry about workplace safety following the Tazreen fire, where flames engulfed a multistory building lacking in fire escapes and exits, Bangladesh has averaged three fire incidents a week. Bangladeshi garment workers—extremely poor and vulnerable and primarily women—risk their lives every day on the job, often too fearful to complain about substandard conditions and possible dangers.

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Same Employer, Same Fight U.S., Bangladeshi Workers Suffer and Stand Up to Walmart

by Carl Proper

supplychain“What do you do [to] make a really big difference for these women, and save lives?” CNN commentator Erin Burnett asked her viewers. “Unions. Yes, unions.”

Remarkably, this mainstream newsperson called on air for unionizing an industry – in this case, the Bangladeshi garment industry, where one hundred mostly female workers perished in last weekend’s fire at a factory producing apparel for Walmart and other U.S. retailers and manufacturers.

To buttress her case, Burnett referred to the similar tragedy 101 years ago at the Triangle Shirtwaist company in New York City , in which 146 garment workers perished in a factory fire lacking every available fire safety protection. She noted that:

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Wal-Mart’s strategy of deniability for workers’ safety

By Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

Bangladesh is half a world away from Bentonville, the Arkansas city where Wal-Mart is headquartered. This week, Wal-Mart surely wishes it were farther away than that.

Over the weekend, a horrific fire swept through a Bangladesh clothing factory, killing more than 100 workers, many of whose bodies were burnt so badly that they could not be identified. In its gruesome particulars — locked doors, no emergency exits, workers leaping to their deaths — the blaze seems a ghastly centennial reenactment of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911, when 146 workers similarly jumped to their deaths or were incinerated after they found the exit doors were locked.

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