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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Fire at the Tazreen Fashions Garment Factory in Bangladesh

Posted by on Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Did you read the two-part investigation in the New York Times on Friday and Saturday? Do you ever buy shorts at Walmart? Do you ever buy lingerie at Sears? You have to read this.

ASHULIA, Bangladesh — The fire alarm shattered the monotony of the Tazreen Fashions factory. Hundreds of seamstresses looked up from their machines, startled. On the third floor, Shima Akhter Pakhi had been stitching hoods onto fleece jackets. Now she ran to a staircase.

But two managers were blocking the way. Ignore the alarm, they ordered. It was just a test. Back to work. A few women laughed nervously. Ms. Pakhi and other workers returned to their sewing tables. She could stitch a hood to a jacket in about 90 seconds. She arranged the fabric under her machine. Ninety seconds. Again. Ninety more seconds. She sewed six pieces, maybe seven.

Then she looked up.

Smoke was filtering up through the three staircases. Screams rose from below. The two managers had vanished. Power suddenly went out throughout the eight-story building. There was nowhere to escape. The staircases led down into the fire. Iron grilles blocked the windows. A man cowering in a fifth-floor bathroom called his mother to tell her he was about to die.

Click here to keep reading. (A word of warning: It's horrifying.) And after you read that, here's part two of the series, about flaws in factory monitoring.


Comments (11) RSS

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It's a staggering tale, and I was so proud of the Times for its coverage over the weekend. Hell of a story. Thanks for highlighting it.
Posted by gloomy gus on December 10, 2012 at 11:17 AM · Report this
Jaymz 2
Thanks for this snippet - will need to steel my courage to actually read the whole thing. Will we never learn?
Posted by Jaymz on December 10, 2012 at 11:48 AM · Report this
rob! 3
Insourcing. It's now a thing. All kinds of companies are suddenly discovering that a wide range of products can be manufactured profitably right here in the good old U.S. of A.

And why not? Pension funds have been plundered, unions busted, corporations stripped of non-performing assets like prime developable land, the ground purged of its fossil fuels by pumping god-knows-what in, the workforce cowed by going-on-six-years of recession and high unemployment.

Next up: eliminating pesky regulations that hobble the job-creators, and we can have our very own 60-hour mandatory workweeks, barracks housing, and barred factory windows (outside of corporate agribusiness, I mean).
Posted by rob! on December 10, 2012 at 11:58 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
Next up, my franchises of Guillotines, Pitchforks, and Torches set to exceed earnings expectations this year, worldwide!
Posted by Will in Seattle on December 10, 2012 at 12:20 PM · Report this
It's the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire all over again.
Posted by Orv on December 10, 2012 at 12:35 PM · Report this
raku 6
This is why it drives me nuts when people say how awful American Apparel is because Dov Charney masturbated in front of a reporter, and they show woman nipples on their website.
Posted by raku on December 10, 2012 at 1:02 PM · Report this
venomlash 7
Posted by venomlash on December 10, 2012 at 1:05 PM · Report this
rob! 8
@7 (O/T): I'm sure you know the story, but if you keep a file of popular-press stories on paleontology, here's a link for you:…
Posted by rob! on December 10, 2012 at 2:26 PM · Report this
@5 except the Triangle Shirtwaist fire motivated Americans to action so that something like this could never happen again in the United States. I hate to be cynical about this, but the majority of Americans will never hear about this story (and the many, many other fires that have occurred over the past 10 years—this is not an anomaly). If they do read this article, they still won't stop buying cheap clothes. It's not just Walmart that sells sweatshop clothes; it's almost all of the chain stores.

There's a great 2008 HBO documentary called Schmatta about all this stuff. You'll never want to buy overseas clothes again!
Posted by mitten on December 10, 2012 at 4:05 PM · Report this
@ 7 -- fixed.
Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on December 10, 2012 at 5:22 PM · Report this
@9: It's not really up to Americans to fix the problem, anyway. It's up to the Bangladeshi workers to demand better safety regulations and better working conditions, just like American labor unions did in the 1920s.
Posted by Orv on December 12, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this

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