At least 112 workers were killed in the fire on the 24th of November at the Tazreen Fashions garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They and dozens of others every years killed in garment factory fires were murdered both by a venal system but also by culpable individuals.
The mainly women workers in the factory were caught when a fire broke out on the ground floor of the factory. The Director of Fire Operations Major Mohammed Mabub said:
“The factory had three staircases, and all of them were down through
the ground floor. So the workers could not come out when
the fire engulfed the building.”
“Had there been at least one emergency exit through outside the factory, the casualties would have been much lower,”.
Some workers jumped to their deaths out of window's to avoid the flames and smoke. Rescue workers have found many un-reconisable bodies so the workers families will not even have the closure of being able to bury their dead relatives.
This is merely the latest of many factory fires in the mainly export orientated garment sector in Bangladesh. At least 3.5 million workers across over 4000 factories work in the Garment Trade. 85% of these workers are women and often work up to 14-16 hour days. These garments are mainly sold to retailers in the west including companies such as Walmart (Asda), Primark, Tesco and the Arcadia group.
The owners of this factory and the thousands others like it in Bangladesh and the ruling class politicans of Bangladesh are guilty of murder in the name of profits. They have tolerated wilful violations of poorly enforced safety and health and conditions in the factories of Dhakha. They have not acted after previous incidents and need to be held to account for these deaths and the everyday conditions that can prove to be a slower more insidous death for malnourished overworked workers.
The major western brands often state they inspect the factories and are intrested in improving the conditions. However these inspections are often announced allowing cosmetic changes to be made and corruption is not unknown to say the least. The prices demanded by the powerful western brands are deliberatley held down and are holding the workers in Bangladesh in misery. If a T Shirt cost £3 in British shops, you can imagine how little of that must be spent on workers wages, safety and wellbeing after the retailers, shippers, and suppliers take their cut of profits.
Sam Mayer from Labour Behind The Labour said in a interview on the BBC World Service "after every fire we hear from the brands how sorry they are, but action is not taken.....They should be paying the price for the garment that alows factories to be decent".
The board of Tesco, Walmart, Primark and Arcadia are well aware of the conditions within the factories and the deaths in Factory fires in the Garment industry in Bangladesh and other countries like Pakistan. They say they have acted to improve conditions but still these utterly avoidable deaths happen. As long as they extract vast profits from an industry in Bangladesh were sweatshops, long hours, pitiful pay and dreadful safety is the prevailing conditions they have blood on there hands.
In bangladesh itself unions like thre National Garment Workers Federation is organising mainy women workers for better pay and conditions and has led strikes. Only a strong workers movement there can improve these conditions. We must give pratical solidarity to these workers and aid their fight.
However in countries like Britain we have a duty to hold the blood drenched directors of our majur retailers as complicit by failing to act wen people are being murdered in the name of profit. Our best tool is organising shopworkers and distribution workers here to fight for their own pay and conditions but also fighting with their brother and sister workers throughout the distribution chain and building a movement that makes these executives fear the one weapon we have- solidarity
Fundamentally the economic system that rules our planet is guilty of the avoidable deaths of countless thousands of workers across the world. The only humane and sane stance amongst such atrocity is the overthrow of the murderous rule of profit and the institution of the international rule of the working class.