Wal-Mart’s Sins or Why Unions are Formed: In 1917, the Triangle Factory Killed Hundreds of Trapped Young New York Women; In Nov., 2012, 112 + Burned to Death in a Bangladesh Factory Fire Owned by a Supplier of Clothes to Wal-Mart; A Factory which had been Cited for Extreme Safety Violations that Wal-Mart Knew About

November 26, 2012


WASHINGTON, D.C by Ivy Harper

When I hear of horrific events like this latest Bangladesh garment factory fire, my first question is: Whose minding the store?

Wal-Mart, that is. If AP et al stories are accurate, it turns out that Wal-Mart – among other giant retailers – had known for years that this particular factory was a potential powder keg. Literally. That it could kill it’s young, vulnerable workers if it caught fire. Which it did.

So why didn’t Wal-Mart pull their lucrative orders. Or personally install the necessary safety equipment including fire-proof stairwalls etc?

I mean, come on, Wal-Mart, you’re the richest corporation in the world; you’ve got layers and layers of Vice-Presidents (I met one once and he was a pompous ass) who collect big bucks and you cannot spring for safety in a massive Third-World factory where seven days a week young Bangladeshis give you their sweat and tears…and now their lives.

And what about the FIVE Walton progeny who consistently take up FIVE of the TOP TEN richest folks in the United States list?

What about this handful of Waltons? Do they even monitor Papa Sam’s Company? You know, the one that has made them billionaires? Seriously. Stories about precisely how the rich get richer are getting pretty sickening as the Internet has made it impossible for this Century’s magnates/titans/masters of the Universe to pretend that they make money the old-fashioned way: by earning it ethically.

Again, what do the FIVE Waltons do with their billionaire-dollar payouts each year from their father’s company? Are they occasionally curious about what kind of conditions actually exist in Asian factories that supply goods to their family company? Do they read any reports? Do they ever wonder when they visit Arkansas Wal-Mart stores how it is that good-looking clothes can go for $ five dollars?

I’m thinkin’ one wouldn’t have to be a fashion genius to understand that such garments could not possibly be constructed in New York City, once the epicenter of clothes manufacturing.

See, there’s a price to pay for things being cheap. There are lives on the line here. I repeat this question: Do any of the FIVE Waltons give a damn about what’s really going on in the company that has handed them potentate-like lives?

The good news is that Wal-Mart has made some progress with respect to organic food and recycling pallets and health insurance so the Company does respond to cultural shifts.

Thank God there are still activists left who will no doubt begin a “Boycott Wal-Mart” campaign; one that will force the ultra-wealthy Company to consider safety before profits that emanate not just from the backs of workers but from the burned-to-death-backs of desperate workers just trying to live a life that’s one one-millionith-of-a-million of what the FIVE Waltons toss in the trash every week.

At least 112 die in garment factory fire outside Bangladesh’s capital

The factory was operated by Tazreen Fashions Ltd., a subsidiary of a company that makes products for Wal-Mart. Firefighters recovered at least 100 bodies, and it wasn’t immediately clear what caused the blaze.


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2012, 4:13 PM
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	People console a woman whose relative was killed in a fire at a garment factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. At least 112 people were killed late Saturday night in a fire that raced through the multi-story garment factory just outside of Bangladesh's capital, an official said Sunday.<br /><br /><br />


People console a woman whose relative was killed in a fire at a garment factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh.

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Fire raced through a garment factory that supplies major retailers in the West, killing at least 112 people, many of whom were trapped by the flames because the eight-story building lacked emergency exits, an official said Sunday.

The blaze broke out late Saturday at a factory operated just outside Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka by Tazreen Fashions Ltd., a subsidiary of the Tuba Group, which makes products for Wal-Mart and other companies in the U.S. and Europe.

Firefighters recovered at least 100 bodies from the factory, Maj. Mohammad Mahbub, fire department operations director, told The Associated Press. He said 12 other people who were injured after they jumped from the building to escape died at hospitals.



Bangladeshi people identify the bodies of their relatives who died in a garment factory fire in the Savar neighborhood in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Local media reported that up to 124 people were killed. The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, and authorities ordered an investigation.

Army soldiers and border guards were sent to help police keep order as thousands of onlookers and anxious relatives of the factory workers gathered, Mahbub said.

Tazreen was given a “high risk” safety rating after a May 16, 2011, audit conducted by an “ethical sourcing” assessor for Wal-Mart, according to a document posted on the Tuba Group’s website. It did not specify what led to the rating.

Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Gardner said online documents indicating an orange or “high risk” assessment after the May 2011 inspection and a yellow or “medium risk” report after an inspection in August 2011 appeared to pertain to the factory where the fire broke out. The August 2011 letter said Wal-Mart would conduct another inspection within one year.

Gardner said it was not clear if that inspection had been conducted or whether the factory was still making products for Wal-Mart.



A Bangladeshi firefighter battles a fire at a garment factory, where at least 112 people were killed.

If a factory is rated “orange” three times in a two-year period, Wal-Mart won’t place any orders for one year. The May 2011 report was the first orange rating for the factory.

Neither Tazreen’s owner nor Tuba Group officials could be reached for comment.

The Tuba Group is a major Bangladeshi garment exporter whose clients also include Carrefour and IKEA, according to its website. Its factories export garments to the U.S., Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, among other countries. The Tazreen factory, which opened in 2009 and employed about 1,700 people, made polo shirts, fleece jackets and T-shirts.

Bangladesh has some 4,000 garment factories, many without proper safety measures. The country annually earns about $20 billion from exports of garment products, mainly to the U.S. and Europe.

In its 2012 Global Responsibility report, Wal-Mart said that “fire safety continues to be a key focus for brands and retailers sourcing from Bangladesh.” Wal-Mart said it ceased working with 49 factories in Bangladesh in 2011 because of fire safety issues, and was working with its supplier factories to phase out production from buildings deemed high risk.



A Bangladeshi firefighter inspects the remains of a burnt garment factory in Bangladesh on Sunday.

At the factory, relatives of the workers frantically looked for their loved ones. Sabina Yasmine said she saw the body of her daughter-in-law but had seen no trace of her son, who also worked there.

“Oh, Allah, where’s my soul? Where’s my son?” wailed Yasmine, who works at another factory in the area. “I want the factory owner to be hanged. For him, many have died, many have gone.”

Mahbub said the fire broke out on the ground floor, which was used as a warehouse, and spread quickly to the upper floors. Many workers who retreated to the roof were rescued, he said. But he said that with no emergency exits leading outside the building, many victims were trapped, and firefighters recovered 69 bodies from the second floor alone.

“The factory had three staircases, and all of them were down through the ground floor,” Mahbub said. “So the workers could not come out when the fire engulfed the building.”

“Had there been at least one emergency exit through outside the factory, the casualties would have been much lower,” he said.

Many victims were burned beyond recognition. The bodies were laid out in rows at a school nearby. Many of them were handed over to families; unclaimed victims were taken to Dhaka Medical College for identification.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed shock at the loss of so many lives.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said it would stand by the victims’ families.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/112-killed-fire-bangladesh-garment-factory-article-1.1207734#ixzz2DHb2Mkvv

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