By Dawn Cranfield
At Least 112 Killed in Bangladesh Factory that Supplies to Wal-Mart
This holiday season while many shoppers are out to find the latest bargain to wrap in paper from the $0.99 Only Store and place under their tree, they may have forgotten about their fellow Americans who pleaded with them to stop the corporate greed and ask them to support them for a day off for Thanksgiving. Not many people supported the Wal-Mart employees who vowed to protest and picket the monster franchise due to low-wages, lack of benefits, and being open on Thanksgiving Day.
However, 112 people in Bangladesh have paid with their lives due to deplorable working conditions while making the cheap clothing for Wal-Mart stores, under the label Faded Glory. According to news reports, over 100 people were killed in the factory fire late Saturday night; 12 of those fatalities were a result of people jumping from the building, they later died of their injuries at the hospital.
Local media reports that up to 124 people have been killed; soldiers and guards have been deployed to help keep the situation under control as anxious relatives await word on loved ones.
The fire started on the first floor of the high-rise building which serves as a warehouse for the garment factory. Workers were unable to escape the inferno; employees were trapped, as the building has no exterior fire escapes.
On the second floor alone, 69 people were trapped and killed in the fire, powerless to escape; the only paths of egress were three staircases that
all went down through the center of the building and became engulfed in flames.
“The industry and parent brands in the U.S. have been warned again and again about the extreme danger to workers in Bangladesh and they have not taken action,” said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, an American group working to improve conditions at factories abroad that make clothes for U.S. companies. Nova said the fire was the most deadly in the history of the Bangladesh apparel industry, and “one of the worst in any country.” (yahoo.com)
When local activists entered the factory today, they found labels besides Wal-Marts’ Faded Glory, they also found labels for Sears, and others for clothing company owned by music impresario Sean “Diddy” Combs.
According to Scott Nova, Wal-Mart has staff on site at the factory in Bangladesh, so they would have been aware of the unacceptable environment. However, if they are willing to sell shirts for $2.98, they have to cut costs somewhere; somebody is going to get the proverbial short end of the stick.
The factory was given a “high risk” rating approximately 18 months ago by an ethical sourcing assessor for Wal-Mart; and a “medium risk” followed six months later. There are no specifications as to what the risks were for.
According to Wal-Mart, they have “not yet been able to confirm that it was still making clothes at the factory.” (yahoo.com)