Latest Bangladesh factory fire underscores need to do more to improve safety, says UN

A female employee at a garment factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh. UN Photo/Kibae Park

9 October 2013 – The United Nations labour agency said it was deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life in a fire at a garment factory in Bangladesh, adding that the incident highlights the need to do more to address the safety of workers.

At least nine people have reportedly been killed in the fire that broke out at Aswad Composite Mills near the capital, Dhaka, late yesterday. Media reports add that about 50 people have also been injured. More than 1,100 people died when another factory collapsed in April.

“This latest fire to affect the ready-made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh reflects the sad and shocking truth that not enough is being done to address the safety and health of garment factory workers,” said a statement issued by the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder.

“Despite the staggering loss of life over the past years, workers are still dying for reasons that could well be avoided if decent working conditions were in place.”

The agency noted that following the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April, the Bangladeshi Government and its social partners have been collaborating to improve working conditions, strengthen labour inspections and upgrade building and fire safety in RMG factories around the country.

“But all efforts and commitments will be in vain until they translate into concrete actions to avoid further loss of life or injury to workers. The ILO, as always, stands ready to assist the social partners,” said the statement.

“The fire at Aswad Composite Mills should not be just the latest tragedy to beset the industry. It must be the last.”


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