27 November, 2012The news of the terrifying fire in Bangladesh has spread across the globe. The death toll is 112 people, remnants of 58 of the dead are not identifiable and a DNA test needs to be conducted.
On 26 November 2012 workers, family members and relatives of the deceased and workers from the Ashulia industrial zone (a suburban area near Dhaka) blocked factories in the area and held demonstrations, in some cases clashes with police occurred.
The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, called an emergency meeting of the Cabinet and announced a National Mourning day on 27 November 2012 and RMG sector closed for the full day. The Prime Minister also announced the creation of a special High Level Inquiry Committee, which will investigate the tragedy.
The mass demonstrations take place in the industrial areas of Dhaka, Chittagong, Tangi and Gazipur. The IndustriALL affiliated Bangladesh National Council of Textile Garment and Leather Workers (BNC) staged a demonstration in front of Dhaka Press Club and at Chittagong station road demanding in addition to what the Government announced:
- Safe working places not death traps!
- Multi stake holder consultation with participation of representatives of the Government, industry and trade unions aimed at developing an integral plan of action and ensuring that work places are fire-proof, and that the brands make contributions from their considerable profits;
- Compensation to the bereaved families and injured as those paid out in the recent Spectrum disaster. 1.5 million BDT (18,500 USD) for a deceased and 500000 - 1000000 BDT (6,000 -12,000 USD) to the injured, plus free medical treatment;
- Government ensure implementation of ILO Conventions 87 and 98, and strict implementation of existing labour laws;
- RMG Workers Trust to be formed with Brands contributing 10 cents to each worker, and Manufacturers/Government/Workers Contributing 5 BDT (0.06 USD) per month into a Trust Fund to be managed by all stake holders.
In reply to the massive protests the Minister of Labour declared today that the Government would shut down Garment factories which had no, or only one, fire and emergency exit. The High Court has also been instructed to form an independent body to investigate the tragic fire accident.