Bangladesh Factory Fire Recalls Triangle Tragedy

The IAM is joining with unions around the world calling attention to deadly working conditions at a garment factory in Savar, Bangladesh, where more than 100 workers were killed in a fire reminiscent of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City.

The fire at the Tazreen Fashions garment factory started in a yarn warehouse on the ground floor and quickly spread to the upper floors. Fire officials say most of the workers were killed because there were not enough exits. At least 200 more were hospitalized for burns and smoke inhalation.

“Many of the workers jumped to their deaths trying to escape from the six story building, others, unable to escape the blaze, were burned alive,” says the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), an anti-sweatshop advocacy group in Amsterdam. “The death toll continues to rise as rescue workers plough through the remains of the devastated factory. One fire fighter at the scene reported that there wasn’t a single fire exit on the outside of the factory.”

Bangladesh’s garment industry, the second-largest clothing exporter after China, is notorious for poor fire safety. According to the CCC, more than 500 Bangladeshi workers have died in factory fires since 2006. Experts say many of the fires could have easily been avoided if the factories had taken the right precautions.

The Bangladesh garment industry employs more than three million people, mostly women. The workers are among the lowest paid workers in the world, with entry-level employees making about $37 a month.

Tazreen Fashions produces T-shirts, polo shirts and fleece jackets for large clothing retailers including Wal-Mart. The International Labor Rights Forum provides a complete list of companies here.

Click here to sign a petition urging immediate action and better working conditions from retailers that buy from Tazreen Fashions today.