Dying for pennies

So now the Indians have their own Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Maybe this will spur safer working conditions and the growth of a union, just as it did here:

Dozens of workers jumped to their deaths and more than 100 were injured when a fire swept through a Bangladeshi factory that makes clothes for high street retailer Gap today.

Witnesses said the blaze – at the factory just outside Dhaka – engulfed the multistorey building, forcing some of those trapped inside to leap from the windows. The fire comes after repeated warnings about fire safety at factories making clothes for western retailers.

Authorities said that the fire initially broke out on the building’s 10th floor, where trousers were stored for shipment, and then spread up to the 11th floor where there was a canteen and a manufacturing facility. At least 27 people died in the blaze while one witness said that he saw 50 to 60 people jumping off the 10th floor to escape.

Abdur Rahim, who was injured, said most of the workers were having lunch when the fire broke out. “Heavy plumes of fire suffocated the area.” He said two of the emergency exits were closed. Unable to walk down, many broke the windows to escape the fire and injured themselves.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at the anti-poverty charity War on Want, said: “This latest tragedy in a factory owned by a firm which supplies UK stores underlines how workers risk their lives to make our clothes.”

One thought on “Dying for pennies

  1. From the Guardian article:
    A spokesman for Gap confirmed that the factory supplied clothes to its stores, adding that the company was “terribly saddened” by the fire.

    “Our immediate priority is that the workers and their families receive the medical and emergency assistance they need,” he said. ” We have dispatched a team from our company to assist on-site and to ensure that a complete, independent investigation occurs immediately.”

    Sure the Gap cares about the workers…. that’s why they abandoned manufacturing in the US because of those horrible safety regulations.

    Rose Rosenfeld Freedman — the last survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, who died in 2001 at 107 years old — went on to attend college, marry and raise a family. She continued to talk about the fire and to speak out against labor exploitation and safety issues for the rest of her life. (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/17/nyregion/rose-freedman-last-survivor-of-triangle-fire-dies-at-107.html)

    NYU is the current owner of the building in which the fire occurred. It is now the Brown Building of Science, i.e., home of the chemistry labs. The elevators were condemned years ago and NYU has done nothing to change that. You get into the Brown Building through staircases from Main Building and the Waverly Building (the names may have changed since I attended NYU). I spent most of my freshman year in Brown as I was a chemistry major.

    This coming March 2011 will be the 100th anniversary of the fire.

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