A deadly fire in a Bangladesh garment factory that killed at least 112 workers has been linked to Walmart. Photos from the scene of the fire show Faded Glory-brand clothing, an exclusive Walmart label it sells in stores. Walmart said in a statement the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for them at the time of the fire, but that a supplier subcontracted work to it "in direct violation of our policies." The biggest retailer in the United States said they have terminated their relationship with the supplier.
Josh Eidelson of The Nation spoke with Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, who said Walmart is creating an industry in Bangladesh where extremely low wages and dangerous working conditions are the norm.
“So Walmart is supporting, is incentivizing, an industry strategy in Bangladesh: extreme low wages, non-existent regulation, brutal suppression of any attempt by workers to act collectively to improve wages and conditions,” Nova told The Nation. “This factory is a product of that strategy that Walmart invites, supports, and perpetuates.”
Survivors of the fire said the fire extinguishers didn't work and the exit door was locked.
....When the fire alarm went off, workers were told to go back to their sewing machines. Victims were trapped or jumped to their deaths from the eight-story building, which had no emergency exits.
Bangladesh is now the world's second-largest clothes exporter with overseas garment sales topping $19 billion last year, or 80 percent of total national exports. Yet the base pay for a garment worker in Bangladesh is the equivalent of $37 a month—the same monthly amount it costs to buy food for one person.
There are no local unions at the Tazreen Fashion factory to represent workers and ensure safe worksites. In fact, Bangladeshi garment workers struggling to gain safe working conditions and decent pay face huge opposition. Earlier this year, union activist Aminul Islam, a leader of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF), a Solidarity Center partner, wastortured and murdered.
Read the rest of Eidelson's article: "Photos Show Walmart Apparel at Site of Deadly Factory Fire in Bangladesh."
Image courtesy of the International Labor Rights Forum, via The Nation.