The latest tragedy in Bangladesh’s dilapidated, poorly constructed, improperly maintained factories involved a clothing supplier, Tung Hai Sweaters, located in the capital city of Dhaka. Though the workers were not in the building at the time of the fire, a manager’s meeting led to the deaths of eight executives including the owner of the factory, Nazrul Islam. It is not yet known what clothing company Tung Hai Sweaters was supplying.
The factory reportedly manufactured garments including T-shirts, knitted sweaters, tank tops, polo shirts, fleece tops, pajamas, and children’s clothing. This fire is the latest in a series of tragedies blamed on the shoddy buildings, improper designs, poor construction materials, and even worse maintenance policies. The death toll of Bangladesh’s factory collapse last month has now risen to an astounding 900 people.
The European Union is considering posing trade restrictions on Bangladesh, which currently enjoys free trade with the Union, including no taxes and tariffs. Disney has issued a statement saying it will no longer do business with any suppliers operating in Bangladesh. Other large companies have followed suit.
After last month’s tragic building collapse, it came to light that a Bangladeshi engineer had voiced concerns about the building just one day before the building gave way, crushing more than 800 workers instantly and leading to injuries which claimed an additional 100 lives. Authorities in the country arrested the outspoken engineer immediately after his claims became known. No further news about the engineer has been issued.
Bangladesh produces $19 billion per year in garment exports. About 60 percent of these garments are shipped to the European markets, with the United States standing as their second largest importer. In short, if U.S. companies and the European Union impose trade restrictions with Bangladesh, it would cripple its economy. Many of the clothing retailers with suppliers in the damaged factories have stepped up to compensate injured workers and the families of workers killed in the tragedies.