Deadly conditions of Asia’s clothing factories

Jacques Human

Bangladesh is the world’s biggest exporter of garment products after China. The country earns about US$20 billion from exports – roughly 80 per cent of the country’s export earnings.

On 24 of April 2013, an eight-storey building in the Savar sub-district in the Greater Dhaka Area – containing a bank, clothing factories and several shops – collapsed. Following the discovery of cracks in the building, the bank and the shops on the lower floors had closed immediately, but the warnings were ignored by the garment-producing companies. The incident is the deadliest garment factory disaster in history, with a death toll of 1,127 workers, and a further 2,500 injured.

The reason for the collapse is still not known, but has been attributed to the swampy ground on which the building was constructed, cheap building materials, extra floors that were illegally added and the building having not been originally designed to handle the vibration of heavy machinery. The incident – which follows on from numerous other incidents in the country over the last decade – has prompted international workers’ associations such as UNI and IndustriALL Global Union to pressure Western retailers into signing a legally binding agreement that will commit them to measures such as independent building and fi re safety inspections.

The agreement has already been signed by major European brands, such as H&M, Zara, Marks & Spencer, Abercrombie and Fitch, and PVH.

About the author:

Jacques Human is a freelance writer at Nexus Strategic Partnerships


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