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#1374613 - 11/25/12 07:46 PM Factory Fire Kills 111
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11791
Loc: NYS
Regulations save lives.

Published: November 25, 2012

MUMBAI — More than 100 people died Saturday and Sunday in a fire at a garment factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, in one of the worst industrial tragedies in this country.
It took firefighters all night to put out the blaze at the factory, Tazreen Fashions, after it started about 7 p.m. on Saturday, a retired fire official said by telephone from Dhaka, the capital. At least 111 people were killed, and scores of workers were taken to hospitals for treatment of burns and smoke inhalation.

“The main difficulty was to put out the fire; the sufficient approach road was not there,” said the retired official, Salim Nawaj Bhuiyan, who now runs a fire safety company in Dhaka. “The fire service had to take great trouble to approach the factory.”

Bangladesh’s garment industry, the second-largest exporter of clothing after China, has a notoriously poor fire safety record. Since 2006, more than 500 Bangladeshi workers have died in factory fires, according to Clean Clothes Campaign, an antisweatshop advocacy group in Amsterdam. Experts say many of the fires could have been easily avoided if the factories had taken the right precautions. Many factories are in cramped neighborhoods and have too few fire escapes, and they widely flout safety measures. The industry employs more than three million workers in Bangladesh, most of them women.

Activists say that global clothing brands like Tommy Hilfiger and the Gap and those sold by Walmart need to take responsibility for the working conditions in Bangladeshi factories that produce their clothes.

“These brands have known for years that many of the factories they choose to work with are death traps,” Ineke Zeldenrust, the international coordinator for the Clean Clothes Campaign, said in a statement. “Their failure to take action amounts to criminal negligence.”

The fire at the Tazreen factory in Savar, northwest of Dhaka, started in a warehouse on the ground floor that was used to store yarn, and quickly spread to the upper floors. The building was nine stories high, with the top three floors under construction, according to an garment industry official at the scene who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. Though most workers had left for the day when the fire started, the industry official said as many as 600 workers were still inside working overtime.

The factory, which opened in May 2010, employed about 1,500 workers and had sales of $35 million a year, according to a document on the company’s Web site. It made T-shirts, polo shirts and fleece jackets.

Most of the workers who died were on the first and second floors, fire officials said, and were killed because there were not enough exits. None of them opened to the outside.

“The factory had three staircases, and all of them were down through the ground floor,” said Maj. Mohammad Mahbub, the operations director for the Fire Department, according to The Associated Press. “So the workers could not come out when the fire engulfed the building.”

In a telephone interview later on Sunday, Major Mahbub said the fire could have been caused by an electrical fault or by a spark from a cigarette.

In a brief phone call, Delowar Hossain, the managing director of the Tuba Group, the parent company of Tarzeen Fashions, said he was too busy to comment. “Pray for me,” he said and then hung up.

Television news reports showed badly burned bodies lined up on the floor in what appeared to be a government building. The injured were being treated in hallways of local hospitals, according to the reports.

The industry official said that many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition and that it would take some time to identify them.

One survivor, Mohammad Raju, 22, who worked on the fifth floor, said he escaped by climbing out of a third-floor window onto the bamboo scaffolding that was being used by construction workers. He said he lost his mother, who also worked on the fifth floor, when they were making their way down.

“It was crowded on the stairs as all the workers were trying to come out from the factory,” Mr. Raju said. “There was no power supply; it was dark, and I lost my mother in dark. I tried to search for her for 10 to 15 minutes but did not find her.”

A document posted on Tarzeen Fashions’ Web site indicated that an “ethical sourcing” official for Walmart had flagged “violations and/or conditions which were deemed to be high risk” at the factory in May 2011, though it did not specify the nature of the infractions. The notice said that the factory had been given an “orange” grade and that any factories given three such assessments in two years from their last audit would not receive any Walmart orders for a year.

It was unclear whether Walmart had suspended the company or was still buying clothes from it. The Web sites of Tuba Group lists the retailer and others like Carrefour, a French retail chain, as customers. A spokesman for Walmart, Kevin Gardner, said the company was “so far unable to confirm that Tazreen is supplier to Walmart nor if the document referenced in the article is in fact from Walmart.”

Bangladesh exports about $18 billion worth of garments a year. Employees in the country’s factories are among the lowest-paid in the world, with entry-level workers making a government-mandated minimum wage of about $37 a month.

Tensions have been running high between workers, who have been demanding an increase in minimum wages, and the factory owners and government. A union organizer, Aminul Islam, who campaigned for better working conditions and higher wages, was found tortured and killed outside Dhaka this year.

Fire safety remains weak across much of South Asia. In September, nearly 300 workers were killed in a fire at a textile factory in Karachi, Pakistan, just weeks before it passed an inspection that covered several issues, including health and safety.

Julfikar Ali Manik contributed reporting from Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Stephanie Clifford from New York.

#1375044 - 11/28/12 10:38 PM Re: Factory Fire Kills 111 [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11791
Loc: NYS
Jon Stewart Takes on FOX...again.

Jon Stewart ripped into Fox News for spreading Wal-Mart’s propaganda against striking workers, and for defending the company after a garment factory fire in Bangladesh killed 129 people.

Stewart satirically told the striking Wal-Mart employees how good they have it compared to the 129 Bangladeshi garment factory workers who recently died in a fire. The Daily Show host said, “The worst part of that fire is the devastating impact that it is going to have on Wal-Mart.(Clips of Fox News contributor Charles Payne saying, ” 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.”)

Later, Stewart the broke down the Fox News argument, “Your first argument appears to be okay, they died in a fire. But they had jobs. You know, I think it is reasonable to assume that your job won’t entail some kind of inferno unless it’s mentioned in the ad. Now, your second argument is this. Your second argument appears to be. Your second argument is hey man, this is just a one off. Which could be a powerful hypothetical argument that I might buy into if moments earlier the giant graphic next to your head had not mentioned the 500 people over the past two decades killed in garment fires. Although, perhaps, you’re just saying this type of fire won’t happen again in this particular now burned down factory. To which I would say, touche.”

The idea that Fox News would support Wal-Mart against striking employees who are working for poverty level wages is not surprising, but the depth of their corporate propagandizing was revealed by their ability to support the company after a fire in one of their garment factories killed hundreds of people.

Stewart’s sarcasm towards the push back against these workers from the right was well placed. After a decades long assault on workers’ rights by conservatives, many Americans simply don’t remember when we were a nation that protected our workers. They take for granted the protections that are still there, and the value of safe and adequate working conditions.

Working conditions at Wal-Mart aren’t adequate, and the workers aren’t protected. Wal-Mart managers are under constant pressure to keep payroll low, so they force workers to work off the clock. Medicaid has been Wal-Mart’s healthcare plan for decades, and if you get hurt on the job at Wal-Mart be prepared to be shown the door.

In many ways, Wal-Mart is a 19th century workplace in a 21st century world.

The Fox News attitude of shrugging off a workplace factory that killed hundreds is the corporate attitude that Republicans wish to make prevalent in America. Jon Stewart nailed it. Wal-Mart is the victim when impoverished workers go on strike, just as they are the victim when the laborers they exploit in lesser developed countries die in their unsafe working conditions.

Fox News: Always corporate propaganda. Always.

#1375111 - 11/29/12 04:15 PM Re: Factory Fire Kills 111 [Re: twocats]
Teonan Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/30/12
Posts: 2368
Loc: Gaia
Originally Posted By: twocats
Regulations save lives.

“These brands have known for years that many of the factories they choose to work with are death traps,” Ineke Zeldenrust, the international coordinator for the Clean Clothes Campaign, said in a statement. “Their failure to take action amounts to criminal negligence.”

Regulations save lives. Families of victims and fire investigators would surely agree.

More on the efforts of the Clean Clothes Campaign.

Who We Are

The Clean Clothes Campaign is dedicated to improving working conditions and supporting the empowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear industries.

Since 1989, the CCC has worked to help ensure that the fundamental rights of workers are respected. We educate and mobilise consumers, lobby companies and governments, and offer direct solidarity support to workers as they fight for their rights and demand better working conditions.

The Clean Clothes Campaign is an alliance of organisations in 15 European countries. Members include trade unions and NGOs covering a broad spectrum of perspectives and interests, such as women’s rights, consumer advocacy and poverty reduction. We rely on a partner network of more than 200 organisations and unions in garment-producing countries to identify local problems and objectives, and to help us develop campaign strategies to support workers in achieving their goals. We cooperate extensively with similar labour rights campaigns in the United States, Canada, and Australia.
Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.

#1375507 - 12/02/12 08:51 PM Re: Factory Fire Kills 111 [Re: Teonan]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11791
Loc: NYS