Press Release: At Least 28 More Garment Workers Die in Bangladeshi Factory Fire


Labour rights groups: “Failure of brands, government and manufacturers  to take preventive action condemns more workers to die”. 

At least 28 more Bangladeshi garment workers have died and dozens more  have been injured after a fire broke out today on the 9th and 10th floors of the "That's It Sportswear Ltd" factory located 16 miles from  the capital Dhaka. Several workers appeared to have suffocated, while  others jumped to their deaths trying to escape the burning building or  were trampled by their colleagues as they rushed towards the exits.

The factory was reportedly producing for major international buyers  including Gap (confirmed) and Wrangler (VF Corporation), as well as for  Hong Kong buying house BF Fashion. It belongs to the well-known Ha-meem  group, one of the biggest manufacturers in the country, which has a  dubious labour rights track record. The company is known for  unauthorized subcontracting, meaning the factory may have also been  producing for brands which are unaware of their production there.

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and other labour rights organisations  have regularly contacted buyers sourcing from Ha-meem about violations  of freedom of association and other labour standards at the company’s  factories. According to the Ha-meem Group website their buyers are  presently Walmart, H&M, Next, JC Penney, Kohl's, Squeeze, Sears, Target  Store, Charming Shoppes, Carrefour, Inditex,  Etam, Migros and  Celio.

First eyewitness reports indicate that at least 2 of the 6 exits were  locked, and that this was a common occurrence in the building.  The  Bangladeshi garment industry is notorious for its chronic safety  problems, including locked or inaccessible fire escapes and  malfunctioning fire equipment, which often lead to fatal accidents. Said  Scott Nova of the Worker Rights Consortium, “Labor rights organizations  have pleaded for years with US and European clothing brands to take  aggressive steps to address the grossly substandard fire and building  safety practices of their business partners in Bangladesh. The brands  have failed to act and, once again, we see the gruesome consequences of  this inaction.”

Following the deaths of 21 workers in the “Garib and Garib” factory in  February of this year, virtually all of the buyers of Hameem group were  contacted by the CCC, the International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF), the  Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), and the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN)  with a set of recommendations* outlining specific measures that should  be taken to eliminate the systemic problems underlying these deadly  tragedies. “More needs to be done by all concerned to ensure further  disasters are prevented” the buyers were told, but brands, employers and  the government failed to take the necessary action to avoid these  preventable tragedies.

Measures proposed by the labour groups included a thorough review of  all multi-story garment production facilities, expert fire safety  inspections and ensuring that workers are allowed to report and  challenge health and safety violations by supporting their right to  organize.

“Workers keep dying while the brands, the government and the employers  drag their feet and try to shift the responsibility upon each other” says Ineke Zeldenrust from the CCC. “We've warned the brands repeatedly  that this would keep happening again and again, but they've chosen to  respond only in a minimal fashion,” she added.

The CCC, ILRF, WRC and MSN also call upon the brands sourcing from the  Hameem group to make sure that the injured receive all the medical care  needed and that they and the relatives of the victims are compensated  for current and future loss of income.

To read the full set of recommendations made by the CCC, ILRF, WRC and  MSN to eliminate systemic safety problems in the Bangladeshi garment  sector please visit: