As Bangladesh factory death toll tops 900, another disaster

Benetton admits connection to last month's tragedy, while eight more die in a factory fire

Topics: Benetton, Gap, Labor Rights, Factory fire, Bangladesh Garment Factory, Bangladesh, Retail, ,

On Thursday, as the death toll from last month’s factory collapse in Dhaka topped 900, yet another disaster further marred Bangladesh’s industrial district. After midnight Wednesday, a fire in a clothing factory killed eight workers. Were it not for the lateness of the hour, many more people may have been caught in the flames. Foreign Policy noted:

The latest accident comes after authorities forced 18 factories to shut down temporarily in order to comply with safety standards. (Six were apparently up and running again by Thursday.) The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Department of State, and Department of Labor, meanwhile, convened a conference call with 70 retailers and manufacturers that do business in Bangladesh to discuss coordinating efforts to improve working conditions. None of the companies said they planned to scale back production in the South Asian country.

The April 24 collapse of the Rana Plaza complex in Dhaka was the world’s worst industrial accident since the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India.

Meanwhile, as HuffPo reported, Benetton has finally admitted its connection to last month’s tragedy:

In his first interview since the deadly collapse of a garment factory complex in Bangladesh, the chief executive officer of Benetton told The Huffington Post that his company had purchased small quantities of shirts from a manufacturer that operated inside the plant.

Chief executive Biagio Chiarolanza said Benetton bought the shirts from a company called New Wave Style, which operated one of the several garment factories inside the Rana Plaza building.



As Salon noted earlier this week, other retail brands including Gap Inc. and Wal-Mart have drawn the ire of labor rights activists following the factory collapse. “Gap Inc. was not among the retailers found to be subcontracting to Rana Plaza, the collapsed factory in Savar, Bangladesh, that resulted in the deaths of 800 people and the injury of 2,500 others; but the company’s larger-than-life retail presence and current lack of transparency around its manufacturing standards have made it a target for a massive, labor-led corporate reform campaign,” my colleague Katie McDonough noted.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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