Building Collapse Today Is Another Wake-Up Call for Walmart and Other Major Buyers to Act Immediately to Prevent Future Tragedies


Activists march in front of Walmart store in Seattle on Wednesday

More than 80 workers died and
hundreds were injured when apparel factories collapsed in the Rana Plaza
building in Dhaka, Bangladesh today. Families continue to search for
survivors.  This disaster comes just 5 months after the fire at Tazreen
Fashions garment factory near Dhaka, which killed 112 workers on November 24,
2012.  Walmart-labeled product was found in Tazreen and now one of the
factories in the Rana complex, Ether-Tex, had listed Walmart-Canada as a buyer
on their website.  Walmart has yet to contribute to the worker
compensation fund for Tazreen vicitms.

International Labor Rights Forum
and other labor rights groups are calling for immediate action from
international corporations and brands.  “We need the brands to make
significant changes in how they monitor their suppliers and to make a
meaningful commitment to worker safety,” said Judy Gearhart, Executive Director
of the ILRF.  The Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, a binding
that has been endorsed by two global
brands, would create rigorous inspections, transparency and oversight and
ensure that workers and their organizations are an integral part of the

Reports from Dhaka today show that
a crack had developed a day earlier, but management appears to have ignored the
warning sign and assured workers it was safe to work.  Bank workers who
worked in the same complex were told not to come in due to the risk. 
“With a transparent agreement in place, such as the safety agreement, it would
not have been so easy to disregard the warning signs and send workers back in
to their death,” said Gearhart. 

This month, International Labor
Rights Forum is touring the United States with Kalpona Akter, executive
director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, and Sumi Abedin, a young
garment worker who survived the Tazreen fire after jumping from a third story

This week, firefighters in Seattle stand in solidarity with garment workers in Bangladesh

The purpose of the “End Death Traps: Safe Workplaces for All” tour is
to call on Walmart and all other Tazreen buyers to pay full and fair
compensation to the victims of the fire and to call on Gap, JCP, Abercrombie,
Kohl’s and other major retailers which have been implicated in past fires in
Bangladesh to join the legally-binding fire safety agreement with worker


“Our deepest sympathies go out to
the families of workers lost in this tragic event. It must be said, these tragedies can be prevented by
multinational corporations like Walmart and Gap that operate in
Bangladesh.  Because of these companies' negligence and willful
ignorance, garment workers are in danger every day because of the unsafe
working conditions,” said Kalpona Akter. “As we learn more details, we will better
understand the brands that were manufactured in these factories, but we already
know that the largest retailers in the world hold tremendous power to transform
conditions for garment workers - mostly young women - in Bangladesh. 
Today’s news is yet another reminder that
multinational companies must immediately sign onto and implement the Bangladesh
Fire and Building Safety Agreement, a legally-binding program with worker
representation and fair pricing for mandatory building repairs and renovations.
This safety agreement is the first step toward ensuring no more lives are