Fire Guts Key Bangladesh Garment Facility as Factory Owners Dispute Walmart’s “Loan”

Bangladesh, workers rights, human rights, sweatshops, sweatshop workers, forced labor, sweatshop labor, Standard Group, Gap, Walmart, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, American Eagle Outfitters, Uniqlo, Marks & Spencer, Zara

Photo by A.M. Ahad for Associated Press

A massive fire ripped through a nine-story garment factory in Bangladesh after a group of angry workers torched the facility over rumors of a co-worker’s death in police firing, officials told Reuters on Friday. Although no casualties were immediately reported, firefighters were still struggling to contain the inferno in four adjacent buildings more than 15 hours after it began around midnight on Thursday. The news service reports that 22 firefighting and civil defense units from Dhaka and nearby areas assembled at the scene of fire in Gaizpur, 25 miles outside the capital of Dhaka.

Bangladesh, workers rights, human rights, sweatshops, sweatshop workers, forced labor, sweatshop labor, Standard Group, Gap, Walmart, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, American Eagle Outfitters, Uniqlo, Marks & Spencer, Zara

Photo by Andrew Biraj for Reuters

MORE WOE

The Standard Group complex, which supplied major Western brands and retailers such as American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, Marks & Spencer, Uniqlo, Walmart, and Zara, was among the largest in the South Asian country, said Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of industry body the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

The blaze, which adds another blot to Bangladesh’s already stained safety record, could leave as many as 18,000 garment workers unemployed.

Another blot to Bangladesh’s already stained safety record, the blaze could leave as many as 18,000 garment workers unemployed, Mosharraf Hossain, the factory’s owner its owner, said. Nur-e-Alam, a senior manager at Standard Group, said the factory had housed six months of fabrics and apparel supplies for its customers. “We were the biggest supplier of Gap in Bangladesh,” he told Reuters. “Our cargoes were ready for shipment and all that was burnt up.”

The incident bears grim echoes of Bangladesh’s most infamous industrial disaster: the collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza building that killed 1,129 people in April. Disputes over compensation for victims and their families continue to cast a pall on the aftermath, with labor groups singling out Walmart, Sears, Children’s Place, and other American companies that produced goods at Rana Plaza for not contributing sufficiently to the effort.

Bangladesh, workers rights, human rights, sweatshops, sweatshop workers, forced labor, sweatshop labor, Standard Group, Gap, Walmart, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, American Eagle Outfitters, Uniqlo, Marks & Spencer, Zara

Photo by Andrew Biraj for Reuters

WALMART QUESTIONED

Walmart pledged in August to provide up to $50 million in low-interest loans to help Bangladesh factory owners make building improvements, but critics of the program have questioned not only its veracity but also the retailer’s claim that no factories have taken up its offer to date.

Walmart pledged in August to provide up $50 million in low-interest loans help factory owners make improvements.

Four Bangladeshi garment suppliers who produce clothing for Walmart told the Toronto Star on Monday that they’ve never heard of any such loan.

“Walmart has not offered any loan, but certainly it would be a welcome step,” said Itemad Ud-Daulah, managing director of Dird Garments, which makes denim jeans for Walmart in two factories outside Dhaka. “Low-cost loans would create a lot of goodwill.”

Walmart’s insistence that factory owners are rejecting its loan fund have also drawn derision from labor-rights activists close to the issue. Scott Nova, chief executive of the Workers Rights Consortium branded this so-called refusal of Walmart’s money as “comical” and “completely ridiculous.”

[Via Reuters]

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments.

Please note that gratuitous links to your site are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments.

Add your comments

NEW USER


Do you live in Canada? Register here

I agree to receive emails from the site. I can withdraw my consent at any time by unsubscribing.

You must agree to receive emails from this site to subscribe.

CURRENT USERS LOGIN

Lost your password?