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Old 11-26-2012, 09:55 PM   #1
Xelebes
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Protest shut down Bangladeshi city after 112 die in fire that consumes Walmart supplier factory.

Bangladeshi garment factory fire kills 112

Quote:
A fire engulfed a garment factory outside Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, trapping many workers and killing at least 112 people in the building without emergency exits.

Authorities said the fire started on the ground floor late Saturday and spread upward, cutting off staircases and preventing workers' escape. Some survivors were rescued from the eight-storey building's roof.

The building was a factory operated by Tazreen Fashions Ltd., a subsidiary of the Tuba Group, which supplies Wal-Mart, Ikea and other major retailers in the U.S. and Europe.
And the protests:

Protesters shut down Savar, suburb of Dhaka after fire.

Quote:
Thousands of Bangladeshi workers blocked the streets of a Dhaka suburb Monday, throwing stones at factories and smashing vehicles, as they demanded justice for 112 people killed in a garment-factory fire that highlighted how industry and government have failed to protect workers from unsafe conditions.

Some 200 factories were closed for the day after the protest erupted in Savar, the industrial zone where Saturday's deadly fire occurred. Protesters blocked a major highway.

The government announced that Tuesday will be a day of national mourning, with the national flag flying at half-mast in honour of the dead.
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Old 11-26-2012, 10:10 PM   #2
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I read about the fire yesterday and was struck by the similarities to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of NYC in 1911. That tragedy led to new industrial safety laws in the U.S. I hope it does the same in Bangladesh.
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Old 11-26-2012, 11:16 PM   #3
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In the industry, the companies can have their own inspectors who can set any standards they like, btw. Companies like Marks & Spencer and Ikea surely already send Quality Control inspectors to make sure their line is being manufactured according to their specs.

Here's a page of ads from one of the companies who apparently thought this plant was being run well enough to buy from:

One ad image:
http://dapperngent.files.wordpress.c...pg?w=600&h=400

The page:
http://dapperngent.wordpress.com/201...sing-campaign/


(eta) Walmart and Tesco may be different. It depends on whether they have a contract to produce custom clothing or whether they are just buying containers of socks and never see the plant, you know? It sounds from the article like Walmart tried to do ethical inspections of the plant.

And of course the Bangladeshi government and actual plant owners need criticism! I'm just saying that, even in countries where the laws are horrible, manufacturing contracts can be made to a higher standard, including plant safety.
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Old 11-26-2012, 11:22 PM   #4
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Sounds like the Bangladeshi government needs to grow a pair and start doing something.

After all, it IS their country.
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheryl Nantus View Post
Sounds like the Bangladeshi government needs to grow a pair and start doing something.

After all, it IS their country.
Oh, absolutely. It is their country.

But they are making clothes for OUR country.

Quote:
Just after a fire killed at least 112 workers at a garment factory in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, another 10-story factory caught fire Monday morning, and thousands took to the streets to protest the factories’ poor safety standards.

Though no one was killed in the second fire, during both fires the main doors to the factories were reported to be padlocked, blocking easy escape.



The protests put a spotlight on the poor working conditions, lack of fire escapes, and garment owner negligence that has wracked the world's second-largest garment-exporting country, where firms produce clothing for high-profile brands including Gap, H&M, and Wal-Mart.


The Factories Rules require specific provisions for escape in the event of an emergency for factory buildings housing explosive or highly flammable materials: "The means of escape shall include at least two separate and substantial stairways permanently constructed either inside or outside the building and which afford direct and unimpeded access to ground level."



Garment factories have had problems since the early 1990s, when the industry was developing. “Unfortunately, the owners pay no heed to ensure the minimum safety standards inside the buildings,” says Selim Newaj Bhuiyan, a former deputy director of the Fire Service and Civil Defense in Bangladesh.
That's because the rules are easy to get around, say observers.



Though international buyers often require factories meet the safety and requirements, often the auditors representing them are not well trained, says Mr. Selim,enticing owners to save money by only appearing to adhere to standards.
Perhaps if we cared a little more here about Wal-Mart and other retailers taking steps to make sure workers over there weren't working in sweatshop conditions, that might be a way to embolden the local government to be more rigorous in oversight and enforcement.

Simply kicking the can down the road and saying it's Bangladesh's problem misses the point that people are dying while making crap for Wal-Mart to sell to us.

The cost of low prices can be high in the risk to life and limb.
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:27 AM   #6
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I'd love to see a large number of people boycott stores that use sweatshop labor and just generally abuse their work staff abroad. But, it's never going to happen. But, out of sight, out of mind. The suffering is happening to other people, in other countries, so not many people are going to care. Especially when it means they get a discount on things.
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheryl Nantus View Post
Sounds like the Bangladeshi government needs to grow a pair and start doing something.

After all, it IS their country.
Let the market handle it.

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Old 11-27-2012, 03:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheryl Nantus View Post
So you're endorsing the US Government interfering in the running of another country?

While I think sweatshops are horrible and the companies that use them even worse, the fact is that the Bangladeshi government is allowing this to continue. It's got nothing to do with Walmart when their local inspectors are either incompetent or just lazy to allow such unsafe factories to stay open.

It's easy to point the finger at Walmart and other companies who use sweatshops. It's less easy to point the finger at governments who exploit their own people in order to get foreign money.

If Walmart (and the other companies, because while it's easy to target the big W there's plenty of blame to go around) threatened to pull out of Bangladesh the government would suddenly be efficient enough to demand safety conditions be improved. That tells me the government is inept, at the very least.

Having the government blame WalMart for their factories being unsafe is silly. *They* are the people voted into power and *they* create the local laws. If *they* don't want their people dying in unsafe conditions *they* need to get their asses in gear and either set up safety laws or enforce what they have on file.

There's enough blame to go around. But I won't excuse the government because it's cool right now to bash on WalMart.
The government and regulators of Bangladesh are absolutely responsible for this.

But so is any company that does business with them. That WalMart is a corporation that exploited these cheap labor conditions does not magically make WalMart not responsible for exploiting them. That's circular reasoning.

Just because someone else in charge is not doing their duty by a people does not give others the right to move in and exploit those people.

They may have the opportunity. They do not have the right.

Besides, you said yourself in your post that if WalMart had exerted any influence the Bangladeshi government would have improved safety in the factories.

WalMart is also responsible for those deaths.
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:14 PM   #9
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My first thought on hearing this.
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Investigators suspect that a short circuit caused the fire, said Maj. Mohammad Mahbub, fire department operations director. But he said it was not the fire itself but the lack of safety measures in the eight-story building that made it so deadly.

"Had there been at least one emergency exit through outside the factory, the casualties would have been much lower," Mahbub said.

-SNIP-

"Managers told us, 'Nothing happened. The fire alarm had just gone out of order. Go back to work,'" Ripu said. "But we quickly understood that there was a fire. As we again ran for the exit point we found it locked from outside, and it was too late."

-SNIP-

Mahbub said the fire broke out on the ground floor, which was used as a warehouse, and spread quickly to the upper floors. He said many workers who retreated to the roof were rescued, but dozens of others were trapped; firefighters recovered 69 bodies from the second floor alone.
http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2...s-at-least-112

So, this is pretty much exactly like the infamous NYC factory fire. Also, here's the responses from the Prime Minister and Walmart:

Quote:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered prayers and sympathy for the families of the dead as her cabinet declared that Tuesday would be a day of national mourning. At the same time, she voiced suspicions that the fires were arsons intended to undermine the country’s garment industry. Without presenting any evidence of a broader conspiracy, she called for vigilance against sabotage.

The prime minister on Monday issued a call in Parliament to detain those who were “carrying out subversive activities” and to “take necessary actions against the culprits,” according to BSS, a state-owned news agency.

-SNIP-

On Monday, Walmart said that the “Tazreen factory was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for Walmart,” but confirmed that one of its suppliers had “subcontracted” work to the factory without authorization. The company said that it was immediately terminating its relationship with the supplier.

A document posted on the Web site of Tazreen Fashions appeared to be an inspection complaint by Walmart. In the document, an “ethical sourcing” official flagged violations at the factory in May 2011, without detailing the problems.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/27/wo...adly-fire.html

So, Prime Minister Hasina is blaming it on arson, even though there's no evidence and the place was a death trap waiting to go off. Walmart is blaming a supplier and claiming ignorance. they're either lying (which, if that document is real, seems to be the case) or they're admitting that they simply don't care where their suppliers get their stuff from.
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Old 11-28-2012, 06:00 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheryl Nantus View Post
Sounds like the Bangladeshi government needs to grow a pair and start doing something.

After all, it IS their country.
If Bangladesh had and enforced serious workplace safety regulations, WalMart never would have dealt with a factory there.

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