101st Commemoration of the Triangle Fire Remembers Bangladeshi Fire Victims

Kalpona Akter, and her colleagues in the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity struggle against the government’s threats of imprisonment for crimes like “incitement,” and labor organizer for the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity Aminul Islam, was found tortured and murdered on April 9th, 2012. Labor and justice organizations worldwide are now calling for a full and impartial investigation of Aminul Islam’s death, and are mounting campaigns to bring the murderers to justice. In Bangladesh, where garment company owners have great influence with the government, improvements to worker safety and rights come in response to pressure from the outside multinational corporations who source their products from Bangladeshi manufacturers. Consumers are signing petitions to pressure large clothing companies, including WalMart, to ratify and fund the safety memorandum and to use their influence with the government in Bangladesh to justly defend workers’ rights to organize and protect labor leaders from harassment and assassination.

One hundred and one years ago, the Triangle fire was the direct impetus for improved regulations and enforcement of fire and building codes, it contributed to a more progressive government stance that endorsed labor unionism, and its legacy of worker solidarity ultimately resulted in the social safety net Americans take for granted today. Now, to highlight the need for labor rights and safety protections worldwide, the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition wants to harness citizen indignation over the existence of preventable industrial tragedies in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world. At this year’s Triangle commemoration, the Coalition announced an international competition to design a public art memorial to the fire’s victims that will pay tribute to the spirit of social activism that was so important in pressuring political change then, and can become a symbol of the need for labor rights worldwide. To find out more about the Triangle fire memorial competition, go to rememberthetrianglefire.org

Photo from the 101st Commemoration showing the Bangladeshi names in chalk in front of the Asch Building, taken by Joel Sosinsky.