The Straits Times
Published on Nov 27, 2012

Thousands protest in Bangladesh, blaze draws US scrutiny


DHAKA/CHICAGO (REUTERS) - Thousands of angry textile workers demonstrated in the outskirts of Dhaka on Monday after a fire swept through a garment workshop at the weekend, killing more than 100 people in Bangladesh's worst-ever factory blaze.

The fire has put a spotlight on global retailers that source clothes from Bangladesh, where the cost of labour is low - as little as US$37 (S$46) a month for some workers - and rights groups have called on big-brand firms to sign up to a fire safety programme.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, said one of its suppliers subcontracted work to the factory without authorisation and would no longer be used. A number of other retailers like Gap and Nike rushed to deny any relationship with the workshop.

Demanding that those responsible for the disaster be punished, workers from Tazreen Fashions and residents blocked roads and forced the closure of other factories in the industrial suburb of Ashulia, where the huge fire started.