Fire incidents at Bangladesh garment factories worry EU

Dhaka (The Daily Star/ANN) - The European Union yesterday expressed grave concern over the fire incident at Smart Export Garment Ltd and urged the authorities to move quickly to ensure factories comply with the international labour standards.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the deaths of young workers from a fire this weekend in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh," said Catherine Ashton, high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Karel De Gucht, commissioner for Trade, in a joint statement.

"This tragedy is all the more shocking as it follows only two months after another textile factory fire in Bangladesh killed more than a hundred people."

Their concern was aired after at least seven female garment workers had died of suffocation in a fire incident at Smart Export Garment Ltd in Mohammadpur on January 26.

The EU is Bangladesh's largest trade partner and the country benefits from preferential access to the EU market.

"The European Union is deeply concerned about the labour conditions, including health and safety provisions, established for workers in factories across the country," said the joint statement.

"In the light of both these tragedies, the European Union calls upon the Bangladeshi authorities to act immediately to ensure that factories comply with international labour standards including International Labour Organisation conventions."

The duo also said the EU was willing and ready to assist the Bangladeshi authorities in any way it could to meet the international standards.

The joint statement also urged the European and international companies to do more to promote better health and safety standards in garment factories in Bangladesh, in line with internationally recognised guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility.

However, no western buyers have come forward to aid the victims of the fire at Smart Export Garment, although the factory was producing clothes for some renowned brands in western countries.

The government yesterday launched countrywide inspection of garment factories as part of its efforts to stop fire incidents in the country's most important sector.

Md Habibur Rahman, chief inspector of the Department of Factory and Establishment, told The Daily Star that the department had begun the inspection to check the safety standards in factories and offer remedies.

A total of 20 teams have been formed to complete the checking of 4,500 factories across the country. Initially, they would visit factories in the capital, Narayanganj and Narsingdi, he said.

The official said his teams were checking whether the factories have fire and building safety permits, enough fire fighting equipment and that their emergency exits are locked.

"If we find minor faults, we will write to them setting deadline for correcting the loopholes. We will file cases with the labour courts if they default. The factories that grossly violate the fire and safety standards and are very risky will be shut down," said the chief inspector.

Following the deadliest fire incident at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia last November, the fire department conducted inspections at garment factories in Ashulia, its adjoining areas and in Chittagong.

At least 1,000 garment workers have been killed and 3,000 were injured in more than 275 incidents in factories in Bangladesh since 1990, according to the Washington-based International Labour Rights Forum.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippine economic growth slows to three-year low
    Philippine economic growth slows to three-year low

    Philippine economic growth in the first quarter slowed to a three-year low of 5.2 percent, well below forecasts, due to lethargic government spending and weak exports, officials said Thursday. "While growth in the private sector remains robust, the slower than programmed pace of public spending, particularly the decline in public construction, has slowed down the overall growth of the economy," Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters. "Exports were the other source of the …

  • EM ASIA FX-Won near 2-month low on plunging yen, peso pares gains as growth weakens

    * S.Korea intervention spotted, won hits 7-year high vs yen * Philippine peso briefly weaker after Q1 growth disappoints (Adds text, updates prices) By Jongwoo Cheon SEOUL, May 28 (Reuters) - South Korea's ... …

  • Britain's tied visa rules fuel abuse of live-in maids, nannies

    By Katie Nguyen LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Susi, a single mother from the Philippines, left for a job in Qatar, she convinced herself it was a sacrifice worth making for her children at home. For more than a year, Susi's sacrifice involved waking before dawn and working past midnight, cooking, cleaning and looking after a Qatari family. Conditions deteriorated when Susi was brought to Britain by her boss. …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Philippines at four-month low after Q1 GDP miss

    BANGKOK, May 28 (Reuters) - Philippine shares hit a more than four-month low on Thursday after economic growth in the first quarter was slower than expected, while Thai stocks retreated after disappointing ... …

  • Philippine economic growth slows to 5.2 percent in 1Q

    Sluggish government spending slowed Philippine economic growth in the first quarter of this year, officials said Thursday. The country's gross domestic product grew by 5.2 percent in the first quarter, ... …

  • PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices
    PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices

    Set to move to a unified headquarters in Bonifacio Global City in 2016, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has issued plans to sell their offices in Makati and Ortigas. PSE President Hans Sicat issued that PSE means to sell the offices, but that they may also opt to rent them out instead. …

  • ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’
    ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’

    While strong earthquakes cause tsunamis in coastal areas, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that inland areas could also be exposed to tsunami-like waves, or seiche, if located near or around bodies of water. In a recent earthquake awareness seminar in Muntinlupa, Phivolcs supervising science research specialist Joan Salcedo explained that a seiche is a large wave similar to a tsunami, triggered by strong ground shaking from an earthquake or volcanic …

  • China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations
    China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations

    China gave the Philippines a “gentle reminder” last Tuesday that Beijing will not bully small countries but warned these nations not to make trouble willfully and endlessly. “Here is a gentle reminder to the Philippines: China will not bully small countries, meanwhile, small countries shall not make trouble willfully and endlessly. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said that China would continue to build other civilian facilities on relevant maritime features in the disputed Spratly Islands …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options