Seven Bangladeshi garment workers killed in a new factory fire

28 January 2013 - 1:34pm

Two months after the Tazhreen fire that killed more than 100 workers, a new fire broke out on Saturday in the two-storey Smart Fashion factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, claiming the lives of seven female workers and leaving at least five injured.

War on Want's partner, the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), reported that the Smart factory employs 250 workers and half of them are members of NGWF. According to the federation, Smart factory is a supplier of Bershka and Lefties, both of whom are part of the Inditex Group, one of the world's largest fashion retailers which also owns the well-known brand Zara.


The NGWF together with the All Party Garment Workers Unity, a platform of several garment workers' federations, organised a rally in solidarity with the victims' families and injured workers. Activists at the rally urged to the Bangladeshi government, factory owners and brands to stop playing with the lives of the garment workers: "Workers don't want to become dead bodies after joining work in factory". The main demands brought forward were to arrest the owner of the factory; to ensure full and long term compensation to the victims; to ensure medical treatment for the injured workers and compensation and safe workplaces in all garment factories.


Workers from Smart factory gathered outside NGWF office in Dhaka

On numerous occasions War on Want and NGWF have exposed the appalling working conditions faced by garment workers producing clothes for British consumers. Unsafe factories in Bangladesh are not an isolated issue but a recurrent problem. According to International Labour Rights Forum's new report, Deadly Secrets, since 1990 over 1000 people have been killed in garment factories in Bangladesh. Accounts of the different fires clearly show that many of these tragic deaths could have been prevented had the factories met basic safety standards.

It is unacceptable that many brands have not yet acted upon safety issues that cause the death of garment workers. This leaves them directly responsible for the loss of lives. Last December War on Want joined the call of Clean Clothes Campaign, trade unions and labour rights organisations in Bangladesh demanding companies sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement.



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