At Least 124 Bangladeshi Garment Workers Perish In Fire

Filed in National by on November 25, 2012

Guess who they make made clothes for:

Bangladesh exports about $18 billion worth of garments and is a big supplier to companies like Walmart, H&M and Tommy Hilfiger. Workers in the country’s factories are among the lowest-paid in the world with entry-level workers making a government-mandated minimum wage of about $37 a month.

Need I take the guise of Captain Obvious and point out that that’s why these garments are so inexpensive? Didn’t think so.

As the story reports, the workers had no chance:

“The main difficulty was to put out the fire; the sufficient approach road was not there,” said the retired official, Salim Nawaj Bhuiyan, who now runs a fire safety company in Dhaka. “The fire service had to take great trouble to approach the factory.”

“The factory had three staircases, and all of them were down through the ground floor,” said Maj. Mohammad Mahbub, the operations director for the fire department, according to The Associated Press. “So the workers could not come out when the fire engulfed the building.”

BTW, there was not a single emergency exit in the entire plant.

According to the Associated Press article, Bangladesh has some 4,000(!) garment factories. Does anyone think that any of the other 3999 are safer than this one? Does anyone think that the Bangladeshi government gives two shits about safety or wages? When such factories bring $18 billion annually to the country (but not to the workers)? Anyone?

Need I take the guise of Captain Obvious and point out that you shouldn’t shop anywhere that  exploits workers toiling in  unconscionable conditions in order to make the uber-wealthy uber-wealthier?

Well, you shouldn’t.

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  1. jason330 says:

    The artificially low prices that we pay for consumer goods are literally criminal.

    FWIW – I started buying “New Balance” sneakers because I liked them, but was very gratified to learn that they are made in the UNited States.

  2. puck says:

    On the other hand, it saved them the trouble of committing suicide like the iPad/iPhone workers.

    – Not sent from an iPhone

  3. bamboozer says:

    It’s a tragic replay of The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that cost 146 women thier lives back in the mid 1800’s. Management had blocked most exits for extra storage. This is what you get without regulation and vigilent enforcement.

  4. No one gets richer by not having extra exits.

  5. cassandra_m says:

    Sure you do, in the right place. If you aren’t spending the money on building the extra exits, or not spending the money on emergency exits (including reinforced, push bar doors, fireproofed stairwells), you’ve been able to provide lower costs at the expense of your workers. And shame on the people who let them build a factory without the right infrastructure to allow fire trucks to reach them. This is why some of us will say that American workers are unfairly undercut by factories overseas who simply don’t have to build in safety costs, environmental compliance costs, or even pay enough taxes to build roads sufficient to handle fire trucks.

  6. Scritchy says:

    Anyone looking for a good read on the subject, if you haven’t already, check out “Big Box Swindle”:

    Like GM, sprawl-mart is the death of communities and quality of life across the land.

  7. @Republican David-

    No one gets richer by not having extra exits.

    Are you sure about that?

    I remember a fire in a chicken processing plant during the Bush 41 administration. The factory owners had barred the fire doors to prevent theft. They got “richer” at the expense of their workers. They also got 20 years in prison and $800K + in fines as a result of their greed.

  8. Aoine says:

    Triangle shirtwaist fire- not that long ago bamboozler

    It was in 1911 and the youngest victim was 11. Most women – nearly all Jewish or Italian immigrants

    Some never identified

    Such a traegdy…….but then we has Union Carbide and Bophal. And Union Carbide had the same whoopsie in West Virginia too. Onlyndifference was the WV. The factory workers were not camped directly outside the factory walls..

    But ti seems we never learn and corporate greed hasnt changed in well……..thousands of years…..sice the pyramids anyway.

    What else is new?

  9. anonymous says:

    Americans can be thankful that Romney lost the election.

    “Mr. Romney and Brookside Invest up to $23 Million in Global-Tech Sweatshop in China.”

    “When I was back in my private equity days, we went to China to buy a factory there. It employed about 20,000 people. And they were almost all young women between the ages of about 18 and 22 or 23…. And they work in these huge factories, they made various uh, small appliances. And uh, as we were walking through this facility, seeing them work, the number of hours they worked per day, the pittance they earned, living in dormitories with uh, with little bathrooms at the end of maybe 10, 10 room, rooms. And the rooms they have 12 girls per room. Three bunk beds on top of each other. You’ve seen, you’ve seen them?…” Romney quote.

    His millionaire contributors said yes, indicating they had. (This was at the same fundraiser where Romney told the $50,000 a plate millionaires, 47% of Americans aren’t worth his consideration.) Boca Raton, FL, May 17, 2012

    Romney continued: “And, and, and around this factory was a fence, a huge fence with barbed wire and guard towers.”

    And, and, and what were Romney very next words?

    Romney: “And, and, we said gosh! I can’t believe that you, you know, keep these girls in! They said, no, no, no. This is to keep other people from coming in. Because people want so badly to come work in this factory that we have to keep them out. Or they will just come in here and start working and, and try and get compensated. So we, this is to keep people out.”

    Note: There was no mention of how horrendous working conditions were, the harsh living conditions of their working lives; how desperate the “girls” were – to endure such conditions to earn a dollar. Romney was just amazed that, “you, you know, keep these girls in.”

    Fences with barbed wire and guard towers. Barbed wire and guard towers, ‘to keep people out,’ Rmoney told republicans rich enough to have a $50,000 a plate dinner.

    And, and, and that amount of desperation and abuse didn’t stop Rmoney from investing.

    Yes, all men are created equally, but some American investors, such as the failed republican candidate multi millionaire Mitt Romney believe, that men (women and children) don’t have to be treated humanely – if you can go overseas and get away with it, in order to make oneself richer.

    One supposes republicans would ‘believe’ not having fire escapes would also keep potential workers out. (and enable products to be produced for nearly nothing.) Well, thank goodness, in America – it would.