Wal-Mart, Disney,Sears knew they were buying clothing from a ‘high risk’ factory!

Tazreen factory fire killed 112 people in Bangladesh. Disney, Wal-Mart, Sears, IKEA, C&A, Carrefour etc. bought clothing from Tazreen despite its very poor safety records. Tazreen’s deadly ‘High Risks’ was ignored. The Western companies talk a lot about ethical buying and ethical sourcing! Aren’t they just hypocrites?

Factory fire is very common in Bangladesh. Workers are burned to death almost every year. But the owners do not take initiatives to make their factories safe. Workers who survived Tazreen factory fire said, exit doors were locked, fire extinguishers didn’t work and managers had told them to go back to work after the fire alarm rang.

The same old story.
Tazreen factory owner is not arrested. Owners are rich. They are powerful people, politicians, parliament members.

‘In 1982, the country had 47 garment factories. Now it has more than 4,000. The factory owners are against the workers who complain about poor working conditions and pay that can be less than $40 a month. Employees are barred by law from forming trade unions, even though Bangladesh allows workers in other industries to unionize.The minimum wage for a garment worker is $38 a month, after being nearly doubled this year following protests by workers.’

Garment workers are victims of vicious exploitation.

The pay and working conditions of garment workers in Bangladesh are the worst in the world. Sewing helpers get almost nothing, workers often receive their wages two or three months late. Overtime is often not paid and workers are swindled by a system of fines for late arrival and mistakes in the work. The average working week is 80 hours, and many women are regularly forced to work between 14 and 16 hours daily. Sanitation is poor and workers are often locked in the factories during the shift. This has led to workers being killed in fires or structural failures of buildings.

Garment factories exploit women. The factory owners prefer female and child workers because it is easier to exploit them. More than 80% of garment workers are young women between the ages of 14 and 29 years. Female garment workers are often raped. Suicide rates among them are shockingly high.

The greedy Tazreen factory owner must be happy. He saved his ass by paying $1200 per life. It’s just peanuts to him.


  1. says

    On Democracy Now! this morning wal-mart had some defense about how they were phasing out the use of this factory due to fire concerns.

    I don’t know why that counts as a defense from them. They were basically saying that they knew the factory was dangerous and that someone would eventually die in a fire but that they didn’t want it to be *their* problem, so instead of fixing the factory’s problems they were going to let some other company absorb the bad PR from the fire deaths. It seemed unlikely that they much cared if the factory closed or not or if people died, just that wal mart could deny association with the factory.

    I was sickened.

  2. machintelligence says

    This sounds very familiar (from Wikipedia)

    The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three.

    • thisisaturingtest says

      That was my immediate reaction- that we’ve just moved the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. out of the country (and out of sight) but still demand the benefits of that sort of exploitation.
      (BTW- for anyone interested, David von Drehle’s Triangle: The Fire That Changed America is good on the subject, not just of the fire, but early 20th century labor issues- maybe not completely irrelevant today)

    • nathanaelnerode says

      The ‘robber baron’ types have not changed since the 19th century, and they never stop, and we never seem to get rid of them.

      I suspect some percentage of the population is born with brains which encourage them to behave in this extraordinarily aggressive and exploitative way; they then use groupthink and authority-obeying behavior to build empires. It’s an unsolved problem in abnormal psychology to identify the traits which lead to the abusive people on the top, and to get them away from power.

  3. iknklast says

    Wal-Mart always makes basically the same excuse when something happens with one of their contractors – we had/are going to phase(d) them out. It’s just one of our contractors who contracted with those contractors.

    The fact is, Wal-Mart sets a maximum price that they are willing to pay for a product. The people they buy it from will receive that much, and only that much, from Wal-Mart, who will then mark it up many times to sell it on their floor at “always the lowest prices”…and sell another the next week when that one falls apart.

    If you are going to set a particular price, you know your suppliers are going to cut corners. Even if you did not yourself make the contract and build the factory, if you are setting conditions that can only be met by underpaid workers in unsafe conditions, you are morally guilty even if not legally guilty.

    I have gone inside a Wal-Mart in years. I buy most of my stuff local whenever possible, and try to buy Made in America (complete with union label) as often as I can.

  4. haoma says

    blame Walmart? If Walmart couldn’t sell the cheap shirts, would they continue to stock them? If everyone opted for US made goods, would retailers continue to stock the cheap items made in 3rd world countries?

    forget blaming Walmart for not forcing (how to do this?) garment factories to be safe. Blame the Americans who purchase the cheap goods!!

    Is it the Walmarts that are the cause the huge negative trade balance between the US and China? If we don’t buy Chinese goods, there won’t be a trade imbalance…


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