Bangladesh factory owners to face homicide charges in 2012 fire; more progress needed

The owners of a Tazreen, Bangladesh, garment factory that was destroyed in a November 2012 fire that killed 112 workers will face homicide charges, along with several other factory employees. A Bangladesh court recently issued arrest warrants for the individuals. Despite this progress, many Western retailers still sidestep their blame in safety lapses at the Bangladeshi factories.

It’s the first time Bangladesh has sought to prosecute factory owners in the lucrative garment industry, which is the world’s second largest after China. A series of deadly disasters — including the 2012 fire and the April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers — has exposed how harsh and unsafe working conditions are in the industry that employs 4 million Bangladeshis and provides clothing to major Western retailers. CSEA and others in the U.S. labor movement have been vocal in urging for improved working conditions.

But despite this progress, much more work needs to be done for real improvement. A Dec. 31 New York Times article details the relationship between a Spanish clothing company and the Rana Plaza factory that produced clothing for the company. Despite sending inspectors to the Bangladeshi factory before the collapse, the company – and other Western retailers – continue to sidestep its blame for the safety lapses.

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