IndustriALL Global Union is deeply saddened at the deaths of at least 11 people following a boiler explosion at the Multifabs Limited garment factory in Bangladesh on Monday 3 July. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, and our thoughts and sympathies are with the many people injured in the blast.
The explosion at the non-unionized Multifabs factory highlights the urgent need to address boiler safety in garment and textile factories in Bangladesh. As a factory covered under the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, Multifabs has been inspected by Accord engineers. It had completed fire separation of the boiler room, and all other fire and structural safety renovations, except for installation of sprinklers. The Accord does not cover boiler inspections, which are monitored by the Bangladesh government.
There is still an enormous amount to be done to improve safety in the Bangaldeshi garment industry. This latest tragedy underlines the need for the work by the Bangladesh Accord to continue, and union signatories to the Accord will demand that it be expanded to include boiler safety as soon as possible.
Since the Rana Plaza tragedy of 2013, when over a thousand garment workers were killed, the Accord has completed fire and building safety inspections at 1,800 garment factories supplying more than 200 signatory brands. Accord engineers have identified over 118,000 fire, electrical and structural hazards at these factories. Today, 79 per cent of workplace dangers discovered in the Accord’s original round of inspections have been remediated.
On 29 June, a new 2018 Accord was launched extending the safety programme, due to expire in May 2018, until 2021. The new Accord includes additional commitments to the right of workers to organize and join a union in order to protect their own safety. So far fifteen brands have signed the 2018 Accord. We urge more brands to follow suit.