Bangladesh shoe factory fire kills 3, injures 40 – Sourcing Journal
At least three people have died and 40 are injured after a huge fire broke out on Wednesday at a shoe factory outside the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.
Six fire units rushed to Uniworld Footwear in the industrial district of Ashulia around 5 p.m. local time, where firefighters recovered three charred bodies “on the spot”, said Shahjahan Sikder, Deputy Deputy Director of Media at Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense, to United News. Bangladesh. Four other units helped put out the flames.
Two of those who died were women, while the identity of the third could not be immediately determined due to the extent of the burns, Sikder said. Those who were injured were taken to hospital.
The deadly fire, the cause of which has yet to be determined, raises new questions about the safety of fashion factories in Bangladesh ahead of the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, which killed 1,134 garment workers and maimed or injured thousands more in April 2013.
As the disaster led to the creation of the legally binding Agreement on Fire, Buildings and Safety in Bangladesh, now known as the International Agreement on Health and Safety in the Textile and clothing, the agreement currently covers manufacturers of clothing and textiles, not footwear. Uniworld Footwear is also not a member of the Ready-made Garments Sustainability Council (RSC), a three-party group of factory owners, multinational brands and trade unions that oversees safety audits in the South Asian country, a spokesperson told the Sourcing Journal.
According to Panjiva shipping data, Uniworld Footwear shipped products to Fashion Footwear, a New York-based company whose brands include Danskin, Gloria Vanderbilt, Pony and Wanted, as recently as November. Neither Uniworld Footwear nor Fashion Footwear immediately responded to emails seeking comment.
“This tragic loss of life once again underlines the need for a sectoral and binding agreement on the safety of workers in the sector,” said Christina Hajagos-Clausen, director of the textile and clothing industry. at IndustriALL Global Union, a signatory to the Accord and a member of the RSC told the Sourcing Journal. “The International Accord, which covers ready-to-wear garments, is a proven agreement to do this, but without a binding global agreement covering all product categories, factories and brands, workers in the textile sector , clothing, leather and footwear continue to put their lives at risk IndustriALL Global Union demands that workers need safe factories.
Christie Miedema, Campaign and Outreach Coordinator, with the Clean Clothes Campaign, agrees.
“We are appalled to see so many dead and so many injured workers. It shows that in many factories the lives of workers continue to be ignored, with horrific consequences,” she told the Sourcing Journal. “It would be a logical next step to ensure that shoe factories undergo the same transparent vetting processes as garment and textile factories covered by the Accord, and that there are real penalties if factories and brands are not complying Footwear brands should take this as a wake-up call and make their factories comply with the Accord.
The blaze follows a similar incident at a Brazilian factory owned by shoe supplier Alpargatas on Monday, although no casualties were reported.