A massive fire broke out at a factory in Bangladesh Thursday evening killing more than 52 people. This has once again given rise to questions on safety of workers in the South Asian economy.
According to Dhaka Tribune “firefighters have recovered 49 charred bodies of workers from the Shezan juice factory in Narayanganj on Friday, taking the death toll to 52.” Besides, about 100 people are missing
The news organisation also said that about 18 fire-fighting units from Narayanganj and Dhaka had to be brought in to douse the fire.
The fire could bring the South Asian country under a spotlight once again.
In 2012 end, 112 workers were killed in a factory fire just on the outskirts of Dhaka. Just five months later — in April 2013, Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, which had five garment factories, collapsed killing at least 1,132 people. More than 2,500 people were injured in the incident.
The International Labour Organisation had observed that “most of the factories do not meet standards required by building and construction legislation. As a result, deaths from fire incidents and building collapses are frequent.
The ILO, in a report, also noted that since the Rana Plaza disaster, no fewer than 109 accidents have occurred. “Among these, at least 35 were textile factory incidents in which 491 workers were injured and 27 lost their lives. In the absence of a well-functioning labour inspection system and of appropriate enforcement mechanisms, decent work and life in dignity are still far from reality for the vast majority of workers in the garment industry and their families,” it said.
Fires have been common occurrences in Bangladesh.
As the country now looks to attract more foreign direct investment not just in the readymade garment sector but also in other areas, the Sheikh Hasina government will need have to rejig labour laws with a fool proof safety mechanism of workers and healthy working conditions.