Another Fire in Bangladesh: Seven Women Killed at Smart Fashion, Saturday Jan 26
January 26, 2013 | Share
At 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, 2013, a fire broke out at the Smart Fashion garment factory in Mohammadpur in the western part of Dhaka City, Bangladesh. Until now, we know that seven women garment workers were crushed to death as workers raced to escape the fire.
Two of the women killed were just teenagers—15-year-old Ms. Kohinoor and 16-year-old Ms Razia. Also killed were Ms. Nasima, Ms. Joshna, Ms. Hasina, Ms. Nasima Akther and Ms. Laizu. [Jan. 28 Update: Actually, three of the deceased were teenagers. Ms. Nasima was just 17 years old.]
Approximately 700 workers—over 70 percent of whom are young women—toiled at the Smart Fashion factory, which is housed on the second floor of a two-story building.
Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights staff were able to enter the Smart Fashion factory right after the fire and found the following labels:
1.) The “Bershka” and “Lefties” labels are owned by the Spanish Inditex Group, which also owns Zara. At the time of the fire, winter jackets were being sewn for the “Lefties” label. The “Bershka” label was created in 1998 and now has 871 stores in 62 countries, including the United Kingdom. Bershka primarily targets young people: “Shopping at Bershka immerses you in the newest, hippest 21st century trend.”Inditex has permanent corporate social responsibility departments in Bangladesh, India, China and other countries. Inditex guarantees "respect for freedom of association and collective bargaining," "no forced labour" and "working hours are not excessive," --rights which are violated on a daily basis in Bangladesh, India, China and elsewhere.
Ave. Diputacion s/n
A Coruna – SPAIN
2.) The “Sol’s” label is owned by the French company Solo Invest, which is headquartered in Paris. According to Solo Invest’s president, Alain Milgrom, their corporation is in full compliance with all international worker rights standards and… "This rigorousness obeys to the rules defined by the International Labour Organization Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The "Sol’s" label and Solo Invest Corporation are members of the ETC/Ethical Trade Charter, Fair Trade and WRAP/Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, among other ethical trading initiatives. (The Bangladeshi workers at the Smart Fashion sweatshop would be shocked by all the labor rights protections they are supposed to have.)
Solo Invest SAS (Sol’s)
92, rue Reaumur
75002 Paris FRANCE
Alain Milgrom, President
phone 33-1-42-21-1684 (France)
3.) The “Fox & Scott” label is registered to Sylvain Scemama in Paris.
91 rue Lafayette
75009 Paris, France
The company office/showroom is also in Paris.
Fox & Scott office/showroom
53 rue Reaumur
Workers report that at the time of the fire, they were producing hooded jackets with zippers for the “Sol’s,” another jacket for Inditex’s “Lefties” label and children’s pants for “Scott & Fox.”
While European Corporate Codes of Conduct for such major labels as “Bershka” and “Lefties” (Inditex), “Sol’s” (Solo Invest) and “Scott & Fox” (Sylvain Scemama) read well on paper, in reality, these codes are rarely if ever implemented, leaving Bangladesh’s garment workers without legal rights, while trapping them in misery.
For example, Sol’s “Label Guarantee Certificate” promises a great deal:
… “supporting emancipation and the rights of women in Bangladesh.”
… “protecting children from child labour and respecting the minimum working age.”
… “production in facilities with the best working conditions for all employees.”
… “Defending basic human values.”
… “Developing Fair Trade.”
… “Helping NGOs in their fight against hunger.”
… “Ensuring that no dyes harmful to the skin or the environment are used.”
… “Manufacture with cotton coming from regions of the world where children’s rights are respected.”
European labels speak proudly of their respect for the International Labour Organization’s worker rights standards—guaranteeing no child labor, no forced labor, freedom of association, the right to organize an independent union, the right to bargain collectively and to enjoy decent working conditions.
It is long overdue that Europe’s major garment labels stand up to guarantee that Bangladesh’s nearly four million garment workers finally have the right to organize an independent union and to bargain collectively. The workers do not need more codes of conduct. Rather, they need and want their legal rights.
A more detailed update will follow.