Ritambhara Rai Bhattarai,

Correspondent (Asia — South)


DHAKA — Factory work isn’t exactly the safest pursuit in Bangladesh. Eight hundred people have been injured this year and there has been 10 deaths this month apart from the fires that break out on a weekly basis. Among the estimated 5,000 factories in the country, there are millions of Bangladeshi labourers who depend on this work in order to make a living. These factories are working with multibillion dollar companies such as H&M, Walmart, Primark and Matalan, all of whom seem to passively accept the poor wages and treatment of the workers. The US retailer has found that one in six clothing factories used by Walmart in Bangladesh failed to meet basic standards of structural, fire or electrical safety.

In order to tackle this problem, more than a hundred international retailers have signed two agreements. The first one states their commitment to funding a cause directed towards the improvement of safety and working conditions in their production factories. The government of Bangladesh and the ILO will then hold routine inspections to maintain the standard of the factory which will be run by government engineers and technicians.

Alonzo Glenn Suson, the ACILS country director said, “All of this is new. It could definitely set a new model for elsewhere. But if it doesn’t work, you have more Rana’s and Tazreen’s.”

The Rana Plaza factory disaster that happened earlier this year has been recorded as the deadliest industrial accident in history. Its victims were waiting for compensation until two months ago. Although the agreement is an initiation towards coping up with the problem, the situation of the factory workers still look bleak as ever.

Image Courtesy: By Fahad Faisal (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons