The garment factory in Karachi has claimed more than 280 lives by now and death toll is constantly rising. According to Pakistani media, it was their salary day and the five story building was full of employees. According to some international media the denim garments stitched in the factory was exported to the international market.
The pictures and footages of the factory on the media showed that windows were guarded with bars and grills which were giving the impression that the owner of the factory was more concerned for safeguarding the garments than its employees. According to international media the owners of the factory are two brothers and one of them is out of the country while the other one is on the run, which is a natural reaction by an owner after such incident.
In USA, in March of 1911, fire broke into the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory which was located on the top levels of a ten-story Building in Manhattan. Fire quickly spread and killed more than 500 workers, most of them were immigrant women, as young as 12 years old, from Russia, Italy, Germany, and Hungary. In the result of this horrible disaster rules of municipal, state, and federal association were reformed to ensure the better working conditions for the workers, and stronger unions in the garment industry was made to bargain on safety and working conditions and to lobby for legislative reforms.
In 2010, 25 workers were killed in Dhaka, when the fire broke into a clothes factory. According to Dhaka Police some of the people were killed due to jumping from that 11-story building. BBC reported after this incident in Bangladesh that “frequent accidents in factories have triggered calls for more inspections to check fire safety in large industrial units”.
The Western companies issue accountability certificate “social compliance” also called SA8000 which not only includes the particular organization’s practices but also include its supply and distribution chains. In the process of issuing this certificate the involved parties keep on looking for better ways to protect the health,safety, and fundamental rights for their employees, and also protect and enhance the community and environment in which they operate.
If the garment and other factories in Asia are the part of their supply chain to the big giants sitting in the western Countries like USA and Europe, then it is also a responsibility of those companies to properly inspect the working conditions of those factories where the cheap labor is working day and night to fulfill their orders. Most of the workers get killed in the incidents of garments factories are women on daily wages who come out of their houses by challenging the culture of their countries to support their children and young siblings.
The Western companies should work hard by taking charge of this responsibility by sending their officials on regular inspections to those factories as they save a lot on labor expense in Western countries.
These workers put lots of efforts to fulfill their orders in conditions where they face shortage of electricity, strikes, threats from gangs and mafias and instability in and politics economy. They are not insured for health and life and if they don’t show up for some reason, they lose money for their daily living.
The daily incidents of fire in countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are the wakeup call for Western companies to re-evaluate the licenses of their suppliers and put extra efforts to protect and the lives of those who are working days and nights to complete their orders through which they make billions in profit.