The collapse of the textile factory in Savar, in which at least 381 people have died, has once again jumpstarted the debate about local working conditions. The Irish retail chain Primark was one of the companies of which clothes were made in the collapsed factory.
Illegal storeys cost hundreds of lives
By now 381 bodies have been recovered and more than 2,500 people got injured, while it is still unclear how many are missing. Officially 3,122 people worked in the building, but it is suspected more were present at the time. Sunday there was a fire when rescue workers tried to rescue an employee from under the rubble.
Seven people have been arrested: the owner of the building and his wife, the three owners of the textile factories in the building and two engineers. The building of eight storeys was an illegal construction. The owner was arrested when he tried to flee the country.
Third largest textile superpower in the world
Providing for the textile industry is worth 77 percent of all export of the impoverished Bangladesh. Behind China and Italy, Bangladesh has the largest textile industry in the world. It is one of the largest exporters of clothing to the United States and Europe. Savar is located situated in the heart of the textile industry of the country, 45 km from the capital Dhaka.
The minimum wage is 29 euro per month, even though a lot of companies pay even less. Furthermore working conditions are very often below par: deadly victims are no exception. Five months ago a factory fire cost the lives of 112 people.
Irish Primark already admitted that the collapsed factory was part of their supply chain. Other retailers are trying to stay out of the picture, but labels of Spanish Mango were also found in the rubble. C&A also worked with the factory, but recently stopped that cooperation.
“Lack of safety structural and poignant”
In the meantime policy makers urge companies to follow the OECD guidelines. “The lack of safety in textile factories in Bangladesh is structural and very poignant”, said the Dutch minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lilianne Ploumen.
“Since 2006 over 800 workers have died in Bangladesh. We can not accept that textile workers run incredible risks while making our jeans and T-shirts”, she states.