Riots rock Bangladesh after factory fire

Thousands of Bangladeshi workers blocked the streets of the Savar industrial zone near Dhaka Nov. 26, throwing stones at factories and smashing vehicles, to demand justice for 112 people killed in a garment factory fire. Responding to the protests, authorities two days later arrested three managers of the plant. Some 200 factories were closed for the day throughout the Ashulia industrial belt that rings the capital. Although the factory had a total of 335 fire extinguishers and 300 trained employees to fight fire in emergency situations, there was no visible efforts to douse the flames. The fire alarm went off, but witnesses say that a number of doors were locked by the management, preventing workers from escaping.

Wal-Mart said the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for the chain, but that a supplier subcontracted work to it “in direct violation of our policies.” The International Labor Rights Forum said it found evidence the factory produced Walmart’s Faded Glory as well as clothing from Ace, C&A, Dickies, Fashion Basics, Sean Combs Co.’s Enyce brand, Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s Country Rose, Hippo, Infinity Woman, Karl Rieker GMBH, Kebo Raw, Kik, Piaza Italia, Soffe and True Desire. Bangladesh has more than 4,000 ready-made clothing factories, which account for more than three-quarters of the countries export revenue. The sector employs more than 3 million workers, 90% of whom are women. (Global Post, Nov. 27; Global Voices, AP, AP, Daily Star, Bangladesh, Nov. 26; BDNews24, Bangladesh, Nov. 25)