21 thoughts on “Bangladesh deadly fire and multinational corporations

    • Hi Waldo, I don’t know Peter Symonds personally, so I am not sure what he has read and has not read.

      P.T. Bauer was made Baron Bauer by Margaret Thatcher. Maybe Peter Symonds would say that Baron Bauer read too much Thatcherite ideology and not enough critical analysis about how capitalism works in pracrtice as opposed to Thatcherian theory.

      As Baron Bauer died in 2002, I am not sure his work is directly relevant to this 2012 deadly Bangladesh factory fire. I am not sure that he ever wrote about factory fires.

      • I would suspect that the Baron did not write about factory fires. He wrote more about cultural fires. I doubt that Peter Symonds ever read Bauer – – – or anything else that did not agree with his socialist ideology.

        • In the very article which we are discussing, Peter Symonds quotes the Wall Street Journal. I would be extremely surprised if Rupert Murdoch would agree with socialism (or with laws against phone hacking or against burglary, for that matter).

    • Yes Rebecca! One should hope that the workers’ movement in Bangladesh will manage to enforce better safety measures; so that so many people will not have to die in a factory fire again.

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  2. Friday, 28 December 2012

    Police fire rubber bullets and teargas at Savar workers

    At least 50 people were injured as garment workers clashed with police in Savar on the main road between Dhaka and Aricha in Bangladesh on Monday.

    Police said when the workers of DNS garment saw closure notices hanging on the factory gate located in the Rajphulbaria area they staged a demonstration in front of the factory demanding wages they are owed.

    Later, workers took to the street and put up a barricade on the road, to block traffic for an hour from 11am.

    Police fired rubber bullet and tear gas shells to disperse them. The workers responded by throwing bricks.

    Policed then chased workers and injured 50 of them.

    A female garment worker was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital with injuries.

    The incident was followed by at least 30 workers being injured in a clash with the police on Tuesday, when the workers of a sweater factory blocked the Dhaka-Aricha highway in Savar for about an hour, pressing for their arrears and reopening of the factory.

    Witnesses and the industrial police said that several hundred workers of DNS Sweater Ltd at Rajfulbaria blocked the busy Dhaka-Aricha highway in the morning demanding arrears and reopening of the factory.

    The workers also threw bricks and stones at the police. At least 30 workers were injured in the clash..

    Workers said the management of the factory have kept it closed since December 15 without assigning any reason and notifying the workers.

    They also said that they were yet to get their wages for November.

    The workers demanded wages for November and December and immediate reopening of the factory.

    Ashulia industrial police deputy director Ali Ahmed Khan said the management of the factory assured the industrial police of paying the wages to the workers on January 10, 2013.

    Meanwhile, Jasim Khan from the Department of Labour rejected over 450 applications for Trade Union registration during last three years.

    The garment owners subsequently sacked over 250 worker leaders who submitted those applications to DoL.

    The DOL has only 149 registered union work places for the garments sector despite the workers’ desire to join trade unions in over 5000 factories across the country.

    Of the 149 factories that accept trade unionists, 125 are in Dhaka and remaining 24 are in Chittagong.

    Most of the registered trade unions were registered before the 1990’s.

    Nazma Akther, President of Sammilito Garments Sramik Federation (SGSF) said: ‘The DoL are not giving us new registration on the ground of many unmet conditions that are difficult to meet and are not legally required.

    ‘We from our federation have made applications for about 15 new trade unionists during the last two and half years but all of these applications have been rejected.’

    She said the trade union leaders are refraining from submitting new applications for unions because many of the factory leaders who submit applications lost their job during the period.

    Babul Akther, General Secretary, Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Association (BGIWA) said that over 250 workers who had submitted applications to get their trade union registered with the DoL have lost their job during last two and half years.

    An investigation found documents on workers who had submitted union applications at the DoL lost their jobs from the factories concerned.

    Shahidul Islam of Bangladesh Nationalist Garments Sramik Dal alleged that Elie Fashion sacked Alamin and Jostsna Akther and threatened them with severe consequences if they talked to the media about their sacking.

    Amirul Haq Amir President of National Garments Workers Federation (NGWF) said ‘We can not protect workers who file applications for unions. So we are not submitting any applications.’

    When asked, Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin denied the allegation that they had stopped any workers joining trade unions, he also rejected the fact that many workers leaders have been sacked.

    Over 250 pregnant female workers have been sacked from different garments factories during last three years, leading trade unionists alleged.

    A few garment factories are paying maternity leave and related benefits but most garments factories are not complying with the guideline of the the Bangladeshi government’s minimum wage board.
    Nazrul Islam Khan, Secretary General of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) said one of important issues for all working women is her right to maternity benefit.

    But, in Bangladesh the majority of women workers are deprived of this right for various reasons such as the weakness of relevant rules/acts a lack of enforcement, the negative attitude of the employers, lack of awareness among women workers about this right, and lack of seriousness on the part of the government to implement and monitor the relevant laws at workplaces.

    Besides, garments factories which operate on a subcontract basis do not pay the minumum wage to their employees.

    The killing of a trade unionist is common in Bangladesh, the police itself filed around 85 cases against workers and trade union leaders during last three years for their alleged involvement in destructive activities and vandalism.

    Currently 30 RMG trade union leaders including Garment Workers Unity Forum (GWUF) president Moshrefa Mishu are on bail.

    The police filed cases against 18 thousand workers at Ashulia and another 5000 workers at Tejgaon in August and October 2010.

    The crucial role in ending the strikes is played by some trade unions, who struck a deal with the government and employers.

    The minimum wage was to be lifted to about $US43 a month, still well below the poverty line and just over half of what had been demanded originally.

    The workers would not dare to launch any fresh agitation against the wholesale degradation of their grades at many of the compliant factories.

    ‘We are afraid of further repression and job loss if we launch agitation at this moment,’ Towhidur Rahman, President of Bangladesh Apparel Workers Federation (BAWF) said.

    Babul Akther, General Secretary, Bangladesh Garments & Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF) alleged that the repression of garments workers has turned wore than at any point of the history of the sector.

    Currently a clothing worker’s minimum average wage per hour in Bangladesh is just 21 US cents.

    Many workers, who have received no rise since 2006, simply cannot make ends meet with their present pay.


  3. Thursday, 10 January 2013


    THE National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) Bangladesh held a symbolic one-hour hunger strike last Friday and are taking continuous actions to establish garment workers rights.

    Their demands include the immediate arrest and trial of Tazreen Fashion’s owner and other culprits of factory fire, payment of wages, allowances and compensation to 15,000 workers of Hallmark Group, the placing and passing in Parliament of an amendment to the Labour welfare foundation act, a Labour law establishing a safe workplace in the garment sector and implementation of free trade union rights.

    Several hundred garment workers observed a symbolic hunger strike last Friday, January 4, demanding the immediate arrest and trial of Tazreen Fashion’s owner and other culprits for responsibility in killing of 112 workers in last November’s factory fire.

    Organised by National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), the symbolic hunger strike was held in front of National Press Club in Dhaka city from 11am to 12noon.

    NGWF President Amirul Haque Amin presided over the programme, which was addressed by General Secretary Ms Safia Parveen, central leader Md Faruk Khan & Ms Sultana Akter.

    The speakers demanded publication of the list of workers who were killed in the Tazreen fire, arrangement of proper medical treatment for the injured and payment of compensation on the basis of ‘Loss of earnings’.

    The speakers demanded immediate payment of wages, allowances and compensation to 15,000 workers of Hallmark Group, which the owners closed down on October 10, 2012.

    The owner of Hallmark Group was arrested for a massive bank scam.

    In case of non-compliance with the demand, memorandum will be submitted to concerned ministries, including the Labour Ministry.

    Stressing the need for accepting trade union rights as a basic right of the Garment workers, the programme demanded implementation of this demand.


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  6. Factory fire kills seven workers

    Sunday 27 January 2013

    by Our Foreign Desk

    A fire swept through a clothes factory in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka on Saturday, killing at least seven women workers and injuring five others.

    The fire at the Smart factory occurred just two months after a blaze killed 112 workers in another factory near the capital, raising questions about safety standards and treatment of workers in Bangladesh’s £13bn garment industry that exports clothes to leading Western retailers.

    The country has more than 4,000 garment factories.

    A fire official said the fire’s cause was not clear but the government has begun an investigation into the blaze amid claims that the two-storey building’s only emergency exit had been locked.

    Doctors said most of the victims suffocated.

    Dhaka deputy police commissioner Monzurul Kabir said the bodies of seven women were recovered from the top floor of the factory in the city’s Mohammadpur area.

    It took about two hours for firefighters to bring the blaze under control, with volunteers pitching in as a large crowd gathered outside.

    More than 600 garment workers have been killed in factory fires in Bangladesh since 2005.


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