Firms say Dhaka must ensure fire safety

December 02, 2012 - 2:02:44 am

DHAKA: International garment firms have demanded fast “realistic” action to ensure the safety of Bangladeshi textile workers, a week after a plant fire killed more than 100 people, a senior industry official in the country said yesterday.

Mohammad Shafiul Islam, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said a 19-member buyers’ forum was blunt in suggesting it would “lose confidence” in the country’s industry unless change came fast.

Rights groups have called on big-brand firms to sign up for a fire safety programme.

Islam quoted company officials at the meeting on Friday as saying that while some factories in Bangladesh observed safety regulations, “many of them do not comply with these”.

“Now we want to see proper action towards implementation of compliance issues, instead of commitments,” he quoted Roger Hubert, Vice-President of Hong Kong-based Li & Fung Ltd, as telling the meeting.

Hubert, he said, pledged financial support for the families of those who died in the fire. Representatives of Li & Fung and other companies present were unavailable for comment.

Last week’s fire at Tazreen Fashions, Bangladesh’s worst-ever industrial blaze, was blamed by authorities on saboteurs. Police say narrow exits trapped workers inside the nine-storey building, killing 111 people and injuring more than 150.

Three employees have been arrested and police say they are being investigated for suspected negligence.