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Twenty-three Garment Workers Die in Bangladesh Factory Fire
January 7, 2005
The Global Union Federation representing workers in the garment industry has demanded immediate government action in the aftermath of a factory fire that has left at least twenty-three workers dead and many others seriously injured near Dhaka, in Bangladesh.

The fire broke out yesterday on the fourth-four of the building which housed the Sun Knitting and Processing factory in Narayanganj. It took firefighters four hours to extinguish the blaze. Dozens of workers were injured as they desperately tried to escape down the narrow smoke-engulfed stairs. Those who died were unable to escape because many of the exits were blocked, and the fire extinguishers were not working.

The ITGLWF has made approaches to Prime Minister Khaleda Zia as well as to Minister of Labour and Employment Aman Amanullah, asking that the authorities investigate the fire, pay exemplary compensation to the survivors as well as to the families of those that died, take immediate steps to improve health and safety in the industry, as well as take legal action against those found responsible for criminal negligence in allowing the existence of such unsafe conditions.

The ITGLWF has also asked the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) to work to improve conditions in the industry.

Warns ITGLWF General Secretary Neil Kearney: “In the coming period, with the elimination of the MFA, Bangladesh will face enormous competitive pressure from China, including in the knitwear sector. Decent working conditions are one element of competitiveness. Tragically, factory fires are all too common in Bangladesh. Obviously, this is very damaging to the image of Bangladesh’s export garment industry”.

Sun Knitting and Processing Ltd was reported to be producing clothing for export. Efforts are currently underway to establish more information about the factory and its retail customers.


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