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Workers Memorial Day: Bangladesh reminds us why we mark the day

Yes, they’re still pulling people from the rubble of the garment factory that collapsed last week in Bangladesh.

At least 362 people are confirmed to have died in the collapse of the 8-story building on Wednesday. Three of its floors were built illegally.

The death toll is expected to rise but it is already the deadliest tragedy to hit Bangladesh’s garment industry, which is worth $20 billion annually and a mainstay of the economy. The collapse and previous disasters in garment factories have focused attention on the poor working conditions of workers who toil for as little as $38 a month to produce clothing for top international brands.

At least this time, they’re arresting the factory owners.

Just months ago, more than 100 workers died in a fire in a garment factory in the same region of Bangladesh. That disaster was eerily similar to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York, which happened almost exactly 100 years ago. (Read “The Cost of Cheap Clothing” here.) Earlier this month, a meeting to arrange compensation for fire victims was held in Geneva; but Wal-Mart and other US brands failed to attend. (Read “Walmart refuses to compensate Tazreen fire victims” here.)


Today, here in the US, is designated “Workers Memorial Day” – a day to “remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew our efforts for safe workplaces.”

Hearing the news out of Bangladesh, it’s obvious: our campaign for safe workplaces needs to go worldwide.



About Liz Iacobucci

Liz Iacobucci is the former Public Information Officer for the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire, SEIU Local 1984. Over the past three decades, she has served in government at the federal, state and municipal levels; and she has worked for both Democratic and Republican politicians.
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