Building collapse in Bangladesh kills garment factory workers

Bangladeshi civilian volunteers assist in rescue operations after an eight-story building collapsed in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, on April 24, 2013.

A building collapse at a garment factory in Bangladesh has left at least 100 people dead and injured about 1,000 more. It's the second disaster at a Bangladeshi garment factory in less than six months.

Again, it looks as if factory owners could be to blame. There were reports that officials knew the building was structurally unsafe, says the BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan.

"One of the eyewitnesses also told a local daily that they were reporting cracks near the generator room and also in some of the pillars," Ethirajan says. "One of the Ministers have already said, the building probably violated construction codes and they are looking into this case."

It's not clear yet if the factory was producing clothes for Western companies.

Bangladesh is one of the leading exporters of clothing, right behind China. Most of what they produce is sent to the European Union and the United States. Ethirajan recalls the fire that broke out at the Tazreen factory last November where "a trade union activist found labels of various Western retailers" in the rubble.

It seems likely this second disaster "will put pressure on the Bangladeshi factory owners to improve safety standards," Ethirajan says. The country exports $20 billion worth of garments every year.

The people injured and killed in the building's collapse were mostly low paid factory workers.

The minimum wage for this work is between $37 and $40 a month, but factory owners say wages goes up to $60 to $80 once the worker has been established and learns specific skills.

Still, Bangladeshi unions say their workers make the lowest wages for this type of work in the world.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...