I have been in Dhaka this weekend, speaking at a conference about sustainable development in South Asia. Sunday morning’s national papers in Bangladesh carried articles about the event, but also featured news about a tragic incident which took place in the city on Saturday evening.
Whilst conference delegates were stretching their legs between the day’s final session and the evening buffet dinner, a fire broke out in a garment factory in Ashulia, on the outskirts of Dhaka. Reports currently offer figures of 120+ factory workers who perished in the blaze, and many people are still unaccounted for.
Another story about a factory fire in Asia. This time it was Bangladesh, most recently it was one in a factory in Pakistan which made international news.
We are familiar with the “sweat-shop” issues raised so publically in the 1990’s, in terms of the disturbing conditions to which factory workers across Asia can be subject. Many organisations since then, including CARE, have addressed the often hugely complex issues associated with the manufacture of items such as garments and electronics, and have successully run development programmes on factory floors, with factory owners, and in conjunction with the global buyers who sit at the top of the chain. Continue reading