Crowe calls for action after garment workers death in Bangladesh
Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, raised the issue of fire and building safety guidelines in garment factories in Bangladesh in the Dáil this week. He also called for action from the Government and Irish brands that source their products from Bangladesh.
Crowe raised the issue in light of the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building, which caused the deaths of over 1000 workers, and after eight other people had died in a fire in a separate clothing factory in Bangladesh.
Deputy Crowe said:
“People across the world were shocked and appalled by the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh on 24 April, which has now claimed more than 1000 lives. The final figure is unknown because it is believed that a number of the workers who died in the factory were undocumented and working there illegally.
“The Rana Plaza building collapse is now the world’s deadliest industrial accident since India’s Bhopal disaster in 1984.
“The second factory fire which claimed eight lives could have been worse, but most of the workers at the facility had already gone home for the night when the fire broke out.
“While it is common knowledge that Bangladesh’s 3.5 million garment workers face extremely bad working conditions, these disasters have tragically shown how important it is that the industry be radically reformed and the urgent need for strong workers’ rights.
“While pressure needs to be placed on the Bangladeshi Government to instigate reforms there must also be action from private industry to improve working conditions.
“I am calling on the Irish Government to immediately use all avenues to ensure brands and retailers active in Ireland and the Single European Market accede to the new Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, which was drawn up by NGO's and trade unions.
“The collapse of Rana Plaza and the factory fire demonstrate the acute and precarious health and safety conditions in the Bangladesh garment industry, and the widespread disregard for the lives of the workers, in the pursuit of huge profits for the business executives.
“This is an urgent appeal because the 15th of May is the critical deadline for brands and retailers to accept the policies of the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement.
“Surely if we have learnt anything from Dublin’s Stardust tragedy, it is that self-regulation doesn't work and that there is a critical need for strong regulation and a pro-active safety regime.”