Another deadly fire - despite early warnings

In October 2013 a fire broke out at Aswad Composite Mills, a fabric factory near the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, resulting in the death of seven people and leaving 50 injured. Just a week earlier, the factory had received a formal government notification stating that the building was unsafe for work. However, they continued to operate. The factory was producing fabric for H&M, Primark and Walmart, amongst others.

The workers were trapped on the second floor of the burning building. The fire was caused by the explosion of an overheated machine on the ground floor, which set fabric on fire. Despite warnings by the government, the factory managers decided to continue production under unsafe conditions.

"This latest tragedy highlights how much still needs to be done to make the Bangladesh garment industry safe." - Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign.

Insufficient compensation

The company owner offered compensation for the families of the dead. However, this amount was far from enough to support the families of the deceased and injured workers. The Clean Clothes Campaign together with other labour organisations urged all companies buying fabric from Aswad Composite Mills to take responsibility for this situation and pay for the remaining compensation. The companies are required to do so under the terms of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The fire came almost a year after the fire at the Tazreen factory, and almost six months after the collapse of Rana Plaza – both in the wider Dhaka area - and the creation of the legally binding Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety .


See also:

Clean Clothes Campaign mourns more factory deaths in Bangladesh

Human Rights Watch: Factory Deaths Could Have Been Prevented