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Five years after the Spectrum disaster, why are Bangladeshi workers still at risk?

April 11, 2010

April 11 marks the fifth anniversary of the collapse of the Spectrum/Shahriyar Sweater factory in Bangladesh, which killed 64 workers and injured 80, 54 of them seriously. The collapse focused global attention on the chronic safety problems in the Bangladesh garment industry.

The 2005 Spectrum factory collapse was not a natural disaster; the deaths and injuries were entirely preventable. The factory owners had blatantly violated building code and health and safety regulations, the Bangladeshi government had failed to enforce those regulations, and European retailers sourcing from the factory had failed to detect the serious problems at the factory.

Five years later, the February 25, 2010 fire at the Garib & Garib Sweater Ltd. factory in Bangladesh, which took the lives of 21 workers and injured another 50, is a brutal reminder that more effective and proactive action is needed to ensure that garment workers in Bangladesh can go to work without fearing for their lives. Within weeks of the recent Garib & Garib fire, another worker lost her life at the Matrix Sweater factory.


National Garment Workers Federation members protest worker deaths in Bangladesh

Between 2005 and 2010, close to 200 garment workers have died at work in Bangladesh while producing clothes for well-known international brands.

More should have been done to prevent these disasters from occurring.  More needs to be done to ensure further disasters are prevented.

To mark the anniversary of the Spectrum collapse, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN), and the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) are calling upon all buyers sourcing garments in Bangladesh to take proactive, sustained, and coordinated measures to help eliminate systemic health and safety problems in their Bangladesh supply factories. 

In consultation with unions and other stakeholders in Bangladesh and the US-based Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), and incorporating proposals developed earlier by the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF), we have compiled a list of actions that companies sourcing garments from Bangladesh should take within their own supply chain to prevent future tragedies.

We are also asking that companies collectively press the Government of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) to take specific actions to address these problems industry-wide in Bangladesh. 

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