Bangladesh garment industry
Bangladesh is the world's second-largest apparel exporter behind China. A building collapse in Savar, near the capital of Dhaka, on April 30, 2013, that killed more than 400 people has triggered scrutiny over worker safety and labour conditions in the country.
Bangladesh factory workers demand compensation
Hundreds of garment workers protested on Friday outside a Bangladeshi factory where 112 people were killed by a fire, demanding compensation for their lost salaries.
About 300 workers chanted “Want Justice” and “Want Compensation” in front of the closed Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory in a Dhaka suburb. The factory was making clothes for Wal-Mart, Sears, Disney and other major global retailers, though the companies said they did not know their clothes were being made there.
The factory, which was guarded by police, has been closed since the fatal fire last weekend.
Police have arrested three factory officials suspected of locking in the workers during the blaze. Fire officials said the factory had no emergency exits and workers said yarn and clothes blocked part of a stairway.
But in a sign of how important such jobs are in this impoverished country, the protesters on Friday said they wanted the facility to reopen so they could get back to work.
“We want the owner to reopen the factory as soon as possible or pay us a few months of salary because we have nowhere else to go right at this moment,” said Hasan, a worker who escaped the fire and uses only one name.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said it would pay 100,000 takas (US$1,300) in initial compensation to the families of the dead and would then give them their deceased relative’s monthly salary for at least 10 years.
The US$20 billion a year garment business represents 80 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports.