Over 180 Workers Killed in Deadly Garment Factory Collapse in Bangladesh
April, 24 2013 Share
[Updated, Wed 4/24 11 p.m.]
An eight-story building named Rana Plaza in the Savar neighborhood on the outskirts of Dhaka collapsed at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. As of Wednesday evening, 10 pm EST, 180 garment workers were onfirmed dead, and the death toll continues to rise. There were over 3,000 workers in the Rana Plaza building, of whom some 1,500 have been rescued. An estimated 1,000 workers have been injured, many hospitalized and many in need of blood transfusions. Workers have lost toes, legs and hands. Five to six hundred workers are are still trapped inside the rubble.
One worker stated, "I was in the cutting section of the garment factory and suddenly we heard a huge noise and the building collapsed within a few minutes... I removed pushed away the rubble and came out with two other workers. But at least 30 other workers in my cutting section were still unaccounted for."
There were at least four garment factories in the eight story building:
- New Wave Style
- Ether Tex
- Canton Tech Apparel
- New Wave Bottoms
The Children’s Place and Cato are among the clients of the collapsed factories.
Bangladesh is tragically known for its lack of proper building codes combined with out-of-control graft.
It is the workers who pay the ultimate price. (Another 70 garment workers were killed in the same area in Savar in 2005 when another multiple story garment factory collapsed.)
Our staff found these workers' ID cards in the rubble. It is not yet known whether these young women made it out alive or if they died in the collapse.
On Tuesday, April 23, the workers refused to enter the factory building. There were massive cracks in the factory walls, some measuring a foot wide and ten to twelve feet long. The workers could see directly into the factory.
Union leaders advised the workers not to enter the factory. A local sub-district director also told the workers not to go into the building. The sub-district director told the factory owner to lock the factory. But on Wednesday, April 24, the owner re-opened the factory.
Management told the workers, “You must go to work. If not, the garment shipments will not go out on time and if that happens, we will not have any money to pay your wages for the month.”
As it is, the workers and their families live hand-to-mouth, with no savings.
The workers had no choice and they entered the factory at 8:00 a.m. At 9:00 a.m., the factory building collapsed, as five or six floors pancaked on top of one another.
As of Wednesday night in Bangladesh, 130 workers were confirmed dead.
Five to six hundred workers remain trapped in the rubble.
Personnel from the Bangladeshi military, fire fighters and police say it will take three days to remove the rubble. The workers think it will take more time. The fire department is using their hoses to run water into the collapsed building in hopes that water will reach some of the trapped workers.
The workers toil from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00, 9:30 or 10:30 p.m. –a 13 to 14 ½ hour shift, often seven days a week.
The workers were paid starvation wages—12 cents an hour for helpers, 22 cents for junior sewing operators and just 26 cents an hour for even the most senior sewing operators.
Eighty percent of the workers are young women 18, 19 and 20 years of age.
The workers want the factory owner—Mr. Rana, who named his massive building “Rana Plaza”--to be imprisoned. If not, they will go on general strike.
Delwar Hossain, the owner of the Tazreen factory, which burned to the ground killing 112 workers in November 2012, is still walking free. The government has not brought charges against him. The workers say they will not allow Mr. Rana to get off scot free.
The Bangladeshi garment workers want the U.S. Government to deny Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade benefits to Bangladesh until the Bangladeshi workers finally have the right to organize independent unions.
One hundred percent of the workers want a union. But the owners and Bangladeshi government have refused to allow it. Rather than support the workers, the owners hire thugs to beat the workers, firing and blacklisting any worker who speaks up.