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Rising fire accidents spurs workers' compensation issue
Feb '11
Garment producers and the trade unions in Bangladesh have come together to press the apparel buyers across the globe to constitute a fund to reimburse the Bangladeshi workers who suffered injuries or lost their lives while preparing garments for these global buyers.

Over the last few days, the garment producers and trade union leaders, took up the matter with several leading retailers including JC Penney, Wal-Mart, Target, Tesco, Asda and Gap, whereby extensive talks regarding the interests and safety of the three million workers employed in the country's apparel industry were carried out.

Following the condemnation from the domestic rights groups' over failure to prevent the occurrence of fire incidences in their sourcing units like Ha Meem, the global buyers have united in Dhaka over the last few days and are actively working on a damage control mission.

Fire broke out in the Ashulia based Ha-Meem Group's 11 storied factory during December last year and around 29 workers lost their lives, including the workers who jumped to save their lives but couldn't succeed.

The spectators here revealed that, while the fire burst out the fire exits of the factory were closed, and even the doors got jammed, thus leaving many of them with no other option but to jump from the roof of the building to escape the fire.

The factory, at that time was engaged in the production of apparels for leading US retailers JC Penney and Gap. The global textile workers' unions and the rights groups slated the Ha-Meem Group as well as its buyers for not having implemented proper measures to avoid the mishap.

Following this, the global buyers have sent their key Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) personnel to Dhaka to send a strict message to the Bangladeshi producers on workers' compensation and fire safety issues.

Over the last few days, the buyers have convened meetings with several industry stakeholders including the BGMEA, leading garment producers, officials of the Labour Ministry and leaders of over 12 workers' unions.

The leading Bangladeshi firms have urged the domestic garment producers to aid them in establishing facilities like hospitals for workers and schools for their children. They have even been urged to acquire necessary medical and fire safety equipments. Meanwhile, the producers are also eager to take further this initiative of safety and compensation for workers.

Also that, while the Wal-Mart has been insisting that the production units should not have markets on the ground or first floor, the domestic producers asked the former to first increase the prices of their products and then place any such demand.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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