Protests in Dhaka, Bangladesh, continued for the fourth day on Thursday, even after violence broke out on Wednesday when workers took to smashing cars and breaking barricades to show their anger over the fire at the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory that claimed 111 lives.
Several groups organized committees and roundtables to draw up specific demands. Organizations like Ain o Salish Kendra, or ASK, a legal aid and human rights organization, have made comprehensive lists of demands, including that the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Export Association submit a report on the incident within two months. ASK demanded that the report include whether the industry executives comply with the relevant laws and what steps they have taken to safeguard the workers from fires.
“I think international brands should help the victims more, especially for the women and children,” said Aslam Khan, general secretary of the Bangladesh Trade Union Center. “Our government’s role was not sufficient, although they have a key role. The government is practically trying to save the owner when they have clearly shown a lack of fire safety measures and gross negligence.”
The anger also has been stirred by fear, trade union leaders said. “The fear of the fires has become enormous for garment workers,” Bina Shikdar of the Garments Sramik Trade Union told WWD. “Workers are losing their patience in the demand for better conditions. Compliance is an eyewash. At this point the trade unions and nongovernmental organizations are protesting that compliance should be followed up with reality.”
On Wednesday, 60 garment workers in two cities — Dhaka and Chittagong — were injured in a stampede when a fire was suspected at their factories. It turned out to be a short circuit at the factory in Chittagong and not a fire, but 50 workers had to be treated. A similar situation occurred in Dhaka, according to the police, when more than a thousand workers made an escape from a factory where a boiler explosion led to the fear of fire. Ten people were hurt in that stampede.
Shikdar said that although three arrests had been made from the management of the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory, it was really the owner who should be brought to justice. “The government is always in favor of factory owners and so is the media, because of ownership issues,” she said. “The arrested members from the factory are just low and middle management.”
There have been 330 deaths of garment industry workers in Bangladesh since 2000, according to industry statistics, with 26 deaths at the Ha-Meem Group Factory in Ashulia near Dhaka in December 2010, and 21 deaths at the Garib & Garib Sweater Factory in Gazipur in February 2010 among the more recent incidents.
In Washington on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis compared the Tazreen fire to the 1911 blaze at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City, characterizing it as “a similar call to action for Bangladesh and also for the many international buyers supplied by the country’s garment factories.”
Without directly responding to a letter sent Wednesday by a group of U.S. and international labor organizations, she referred to some of their concerns.
“I know that change is not easy,” she said. “The U.S. Department of Labor stands ready to help, with technical assistance and expertise, to work with the government of Bangladesh to ensure that this horrific tragedy becomes a watershed moment for Bangladeshi workers’ rights.”
Numerous workers’ rights advocacy groups had called on Solis and a number of European government labor officials to press brands and retailers to sign onto a joint memorandum of understanding with a group of nongovernmental organizations and international and Bangladeshi trade unions, know as the “Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement.”
The groups claim corporate social responsibility programs are not enough and argue that more stringent steps — such as their agreement — need to be taken to prevent tragic fires in the future. PVH Corp. and German retailer Tchibo have signed onto the agreement, but it will not take effect until a specific number of firms agree to it.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye