Bangladesh Garment Workers Die Producing Cheap Clothes

Bangladesh garmet fire victim

Bangladeshi men carry the body of a victim after a fire in the nine-storey Tazreen Fashion plant in Savar, about 30 kilometres north of Dhaka on November 25, 2012. Rescue workers in Bangladesh recovered 109 bodies on Sunday after a fire tore through a garment factory, forcing many workers to jump from high windows to escape the smoke and flames. (Photo credit STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

As Americans indulge in post-Thanksgiving shopping sprees in chain stores across the country and online, we are reminded of the real toll that cheap goods has on human rights in countries such as Bangladesh: the death toll from a horrific fire at a Bangladeshi textile factory has risen to over 110. Dhaka’s largest English-language newspaper tells of a harrowing scene inside the factory:
 
“Hot smoke filled the air within minute as soon as fire alarm rang and electricity supply became off. We were running to escape death through the dark. Many died inhaling smoke”
Since 2006, more than 500 people have been killed providing inexpensive clothing to American and European chain stores. This particular company, Tazreen Fashions, produce clothes for giant retailers such as Walmart. As the organization Clean Clothes Campaign stated in reaction to this tragedy: ”These brands have known for years that many of the factories they choose to work with are death traps. Their failure to take action mounts to criminal negligence.”
 
The factory is in a district that houses many other export-led industries within the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority or BEPZA. The BEZPA do not permit unions and other organizing activities as it is considered a “cumbersome activity”. Because of the blatant nature of illegality against organizing in the export processing zone, no one should think for a moment that this is just a tragic accident. No. This disaster must be a wake-up call for the protection of the human rights of workers in Bangladesh. 
 
There must be an independent investigation into the causes of the fire, for compensation to be paid to the victims and their families and for those responsible for these conditions to face prosecution. Further, any investigation must result in concrete action from all parties to prevent future tragedies.

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5 thoughts on “Bangladesh Garment Workers Die Producing Cheap Clothes

  1. Well if we all know this, howcome we still support such, and yes it is, slavery?

    Greed is not only destroying all species on Earth, its also destroying Earth itself.

    It’s time for an unprecedented revolution. Everything must change. Its up to all of us, to me and its up to you!

  2. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911 caused the deaths of , I believe, 146 garment workers, who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. More than a century later a very similar tragedy claims the lives of garment factory workers in Bangladesh. Unforgivable and avoidable. Employers must take responsibility for the well being of their employees. This is not optional.

  3. I urge our readers to check the label sewn inside clothing when they shop at Christmas or afterwards. Ask the salespeople or the manager whether they know anything about the condtions under which it was made or the wages of the workers who made it. Take it upon yourself to read about the working condtions and wages of workers in Asia or Central America.

    By the way, I am not saying whether you should buy the clothes or not. Sometimes people cannot afford an alternative or have the time to look further. But asking questions can cause the retailer or maker to think about whether the wages and working conditions are fair and may have to be changed. If no none says anything critical, that is a guarantee things will stay the same. The human rights of the workers to a fair wage and working conditions are of concern to us all.

  4. As I read your article I hbave become aware of the situation prevailing in Banladesh. I thing the respective government should take necessary steps in ensuring that a fair price is given to the garment products of their citizens. Afterall the country develops when the people are able to develop in terms of their basic needs.