Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader on Sunday alleged that there is no let-up in factory fires and deaths of workers in the country for lack of monitoring and accountability of the authorities concerned. “Even in the 50 years of independence, the lives of the factory workers are not safe in this country. Every year many workers die in factory fires,” he said in a statement. Read: Rupganj factory fire: Claimants found for 40 bodies out of 48, after 56 families submit DNA samples The Jatiya Party chief said many buildings are not constructed in accordance with the building code while the factories are not built maintaining the specific policies. “The factories don’t have the necessary equipment to prevent fires. There’s no monitoring and minimum accountability of those responsible. So, the workers can’t save their lives when any factory catches fire,” he observed. GM Quader, also the deputy opposition leader in parliament, said an investigation committee is formed after each fire incident and the report also contains some recommendations. Read: PM monitoring developments after factory fire in Rupganj: Quader “Sometimes people know about it (report), sometimes it remains a secret. The recommendations are hardly implemented. In most cases, those responsible (for the fire incidents) get out through the loopholes of the law. So, the fire incidents and the processions of death are not stopping,” he alleged. Referring to the data of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, the Jatiya Party chairman said 2,317 people were killed and 12,374 others injured in fire incidents across the country in the last 15 years. “A large part of them are working-class people.” He recalled that 117 garment workers at the Tazreen Fashion garment factory at Ashulia were burnt to death and more than 200 others injured in the deadliest fire in the country’s history on November 24, 2012. Read:Rupganj fire: Sajeeb Group chairman, sons among 8 put on remand “The deaths of bread-earners in each fire incident causes a humanitarian catastrophe in their poverty-stricken families,” Quader bemoaned. He said the government must take strong steps right now to reduce fire incidents and save the lives of workers.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said the latest factory fire illustrates the urgent need in Bangladesh for authorities and building owners to ensure that buildings are built and operated in compliance with national code requirements. "If the fire safety measures required by the regulations were properly implemented, it would provide for safe evacuation of occupants in this type of emergency," ILO said on Saturday adding that thousands of workers spend the better part of their day in factories. Read: Rupganj factory fire: Sajeeb Group chairman, 4 sons, CEO arrested The ILO is "deeply saddened" by the tragic loss of life of at least 52 workers from a fire in the Hashem Food and Beverage factory in Rupganj area of Naranyanganj, and to see reports of underage workers among the victims. "We extend our heartfelt condolences and solidarity with the families of the victims and others injured at this factory," it said. The ILO has worked closely with the Government of Bangladesh, employers’ and workers’ organisations and development partners to improve working conditions in the ready-made garment (RMG) industry. Read: Rupganj factory fire: Fire Service forms 5-member probe body The ILO is working with the government’s labour inspectorate to enhance the effectiveness of safety inspections, and is helping with the development and implementation of an industrial safety framework that would extend the good practices applied over the past eight year in the RMG sector to all other industries. Read: Trapped in a building with no fire exit and gates locked , workers were burn to a pulp "This latest incident illustrates the urgency of that endeavour. The ILO will continue to work with the Government of Bangladesh and the employers’ and workers’ organisations on these efforts," it said. The ILO hoped that this tragic accident will drive all parties involved to apply renewed vigour in addressing the safety deficits in workplaces across the country.
A fire engulfed a food and beverage factory outside Bangladesh’s capital, killing at least 52 people, many of whom were trapped inside by an illegally locked door, fire officials said Friday. The blaze began Thursday night at the five-story Hashem Foods Ltd. factory in Rupganj, just outside Dhaka, sending huge clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky. Police initially gave a toll of three dead, but then discovered piles of bodies on Friday afternoon after the fire was extinguished. Read: Trapped in a building with no fire exit and gates locked, workers were burned to a pulp So far 52 bodies have been recovered, but the top two floors of the factory have yet to be searched, said Debasish Bardhan, deputy director of the Fire Service and Civil Defense. He said the main exit of the factory was locked from the inside and many of those who died were trapped. Many workers jumped from the upper floors of the factory, and at least 26 suffered injuries, the United News of Bangladesh agency reported. Information about how many people were in the factory and how many were missing was not immediately available. Read: Rupganj factory: Legal action against owner if negligence found, warns State Minister “For now, we only have these details. After searching the top floors we will be able to get a complete picture,” Bardhan said. Bangladesh has a tragic history of industrial disasters, including factories catching fire with the workers locked inside. Continuing corruption and lax enforcement have resulted in many deaths over the years, and big international brands, which employ tens of thousands of low-paid workers in Bangladesh, have come under heavy pressure to improve factory conditions after fires and other disasters killed thousands of people. The factory that caught fire Thursday was subsidiary of Sajeeb Group, a Bangladeshi company that produces juice under Pakistan’s Lahore-based Shezan International Ltd., said Kazi Abdur Rahman, the group’s senior general manager for export. According to the group’s website, the company exports its products to a number of countries including Australia, the United States, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Bhutan, Nepal and nations in the Middle East and Africa. Rahman told The Associated Press by phone that the company is fully compliant with international standards, but he was not certain whether the exit of the factory was locked. According to Bangladesh’s factory laws, a factory cannot lock its exit when workers are inside during production hours. Read: Factory fires: Bangladesh's recurring nightmare “We are a reputed company; we maintain rules,” he said. “What happened today is very sad. We regret it.” As the recovery effort was carried out Friday, victims in white body bags were piled in a fleet of ambulances as relatives wailed. As the heavy smoke continued to rise from the still smoldering factory, weeping family members of missing workers waited anxiously for news of loved ones outside the charred site. Earlier, family members clashed with police as they waited overnight without any word of the fate of their loved ones. The government ordered an investigation into the cause of the fire. Past industrial tragedies have often been attributed to safety lapses that still plague the South Asian country despite its rapid economic growth. In 2012, about 117 workers died when they were trapped behind locked exits in a garment factory in Dhaka. The country’s worst Industrial disaster came the following year, when the Rana Plaza garment factory outside Dhaka collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people. Authorities imposed tougher safety rules after that disaster and the country’s garment industry has since become largely compliant under domestic and global watchdogs. But many other local industries fail to maintain safety compliance and the disasters have continued. In February 2019, a blaze ripped through a 400-year-old area cramped with apartments, shops and warehouses in the oldest part of Dhaka and killed at least 67 people. Another fire in Old Dhaka in a house illegally storing chemicals killed at least 123 people in 2010. The International Labor Organization said in a 2017 report that Bangladesh’s regulatory framework and inspections “had not been able to keep pace with the development of the industry.”
Legal action will be taken against the owners of the Rupganj factory where over 50 workers died in a fire, if there is evidence of their negligence, State Minister for Labor and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian pledged on Friday. “A committee would be formed by the Ministry of Labor and Employment to look into the overall cause of the tragic accident. It will also the involvement of child labour in this factory. If evidence is found, action will be taken against the employer in accordance with labor law,” she said after visiting the fire site on Friday evening. Read: Trapped in a building with no fire exit and gates locked, workers were burned to a pulp She also said that the family of the deceased would be provided with Tk 2 lac and the injured Tk 50,000 tomorrow from the Bangladesh Workers Welfare Foundation fund under the labor ministry. The state minister visited the injured workers at Dhaka Medical College Hospitals and inquired about their treatment. A massive fire broke out in a seven-storey factory of Hashem Foods Ltd, a subsidiary of the Sajeeb Group, in Bhulta of Rupganj on Thursday evening. The confirmed death toll till filing of this report stands at 52, and is expected to rise. As more details emerged of the catastrophe, it became clear that the workers were left with no chance in the face of the raging inferno, that has been further fuelled by combustible items such as ghee, butter, oil and polybags stored on each floor. Even so, the workers may have had a chance at escape, if only the building code had been maintained to provide an emergency exit, or the management had not implemented the medieval practice of locking the gates of the factory floors, that carried undertones of the horrific Tazreen Garments fire in 2012 that killed at least 112. Read: Factory fires: Bangladesh's recurring nightmare Deputy Director of the Fire Service Debashish Bardhan confirmed to UNB that rescue workers had to literally break down the locked collapsible gate on the building's 4th floor to go in and recover the bodies. That is where they found 49 of the bodies, burnt to a pulp overnight on the factory floor. According to the information gathered from relatives, 45 workers are still missing. Most of the workers in the factory were juveniles. A five-member probe committee has been formed to investigate the fire.Narayanganj Deputy Commissioner Mostain Billah has announced assistance of Tk 25,000 to each family of the deceased and Tk 10,000 for the treatment of the injured from the funds of the district administration. Besides, on behalf of the factory owner, Textiles and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi Bir Pratik will make arrangements for 'compensation' to the victims.
Bangladesh, the second-largest garment exporter after China, has a long history of industrial disasters and abuses, including factory fires with workers trapped behind locked exits. Lax enforcement of safety standards and unsafe working conditions in its factories makes fires a tragedy of the commons here, largely in the apparel sector which accounts for about 80% of the country's exports. Industrial safety in Bangladesh has repeatedly come under intense scrutiny following each disaster. Although public outcry followed each trauma and tragedy, working conditions in garment factories have remained largely unchanged. Weeping family members of missing workers waiting anxiously to learn the fate of their loved ones has become a regular sight. The authorities promised better safety standards after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, which killed more than 1,100 workers and injured hundreds in 2013 in Bangladesh's apparel industry's biggest disaster. Also read: Trapped in a building with no fire exit and gates locked, workers were burned to a pulp The collapse led to better labour conditions and tougher safety rules. But many local industries failed to maintain safety compliance, leading to accidents each year.