Bangladesh: Another Deadly Garment Fire Kills 10, Injures Over 50

October, 09 2013 Share


Just six months after Rana Plaza building collapse and less than a year after the Tazreen factory fire, at least ten workers were killed Tuesday evening when a fire broke out at the Aswad Composite Mills garment factory in Gazipur, near Bangladesh's capital Dhaka.

The fire started at about 6:00 p.m. in the dyeing section of a two-story clothing factory, owned by Palmal Group, large exporter which owns 27 garment factories.  Approximately 170 workers were in the building.  The flames spread to two nearby factory buildings that are also owned by the Palmal Group. 

Buyers of clothing made in Aswad include Wal-Mart ("George" clothing line,) UK's Primark, and two Canadian companies \xe2"\x80\xe2"\x80 Hudson's Bay Co. and Loblaws Inc., owner of Joe Fresh.

Aswad Composite Mills is listed among the nearly 1,600 garments factories that are used by more than 90 major fashion brands and retailers that are signatories of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which Loblaw Inc. is a party to.  Wal-Mart and Hudson's Bay are signatories of an alternate factory safety pact, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, led by a number of North American retailers.

This deadly fire is only the latest of a string of recent industrial tragedies, including the Rana Plaza building collapse in April, leaving 1,132 workers confirmed dead, hundreds severely injured and several hundred still missing.  In November of last year, a fire in Tazreen Fashion factory in Ashulia, killed 112 workers who were trapped in a locked sweatshop.  Victims of these two tragedies are still waiting for compensation.

Bangladesh is the second largest garment exporter in the world, currently earning more than $20 billion a year from apparel exports mainly to the U.S. and Europe.  The industry is growing fast and now employs nearly 4 million workers in about 5,000 factories, generating more than 80 percent of Bangladesh's export earnings.  Bangladeshi garment workers are among the poorest workers in the world, making $38 a month \xe2"\x80\xe2"\x80 the lowest minimum wage in the world.