CLOTHING for a prestigious Scottish knitwear firm was made at a Bangladeshi factory in which more than 100 workers were killed in a fire, it has emerged.
The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) said it has identified Edinburgh Woollen Mills (EWM), based in Langholm in Dumfriessshire, as one of a number of major retailers whose goods were produced at the RMG factory in Ashulia. The US-based workers’ rights group said Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s PG Fields and Country Rose brands were manufactured there.
A fire broke out on Saturday night at the eight-storey
garment factory owned by Tazreen Fashions, a subsidiary of the Tuba Group.
At least 124 people died in the fire, with the death toll expected to rise as rescue workers search the ruins of the factory.
More than a dozen people were injured jumping from the building to escape the flames. It is believed others burned to death in the factory.
ILRF, which has been tracking fires in city’s garment sector, described Saturday’s outbreak as “the most deadly factory fire in the history of the apparel industry in Bangladesh”.
The campaigning organisation claimed that as well as finding evidence that the factory produced Walmart’s Faded Glory brand, its researchers had found over a dozen other brand logos on clothing and documents in the factory, including from EWM.
The firm has been asked to join international brands to help launch a fire safety programme in “death trap” garment factories.
Last night a spokesman for Edinburgh Woollen Mill confirmed the factory had been producing some of their clothing and said they would support the call for fire safety measures.
The spokesman said: “We are devastated by the tragic loss of lives at one of their factories our thoughts and prayers are with the families.
“We have been working with the Tuba group. Any programme that safeguards human life would obviously be worth supporting.”
Yesterday tens of thousands of garment workers marched to the centre of Ashulia, at the heart of the country’s clothing industry, demanding an end to “deathtrap labour”.
One woman, who gave her name as “Shadida” and has been unable to find her mother, who worked at the factory, said; “I demand justice, I demand the owner be arrested.”
The Tazreen fire is regarded as the worst to have occurred in Bangladesh’s clothing factories.
According to ILRF figures a total of 700 workers have been killed in fires in the city’s clothing factories since 2005.
The campaign group is also calling for an “independent and transparent” investigation into the cause of the fire; full and fair compensation for injured workers and the families of the deceased and action from all parties involved to prevent future tragedies.
Mohammad Mahbub, the city’s fire department operations director said that the factory had no emergency exits. Fire reports suggest the fire was started by an electrical short circuit.
Bangladesh is the second biggest clothing exporter after China. Export data indicates that Walmart is the second largest buyer of garments from the city after H&M.
In March this year an agreement between brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Van Heusen was signed with Bangladeshi unions, international unions, the ILRF and other labour rights groups to develop a fire safety programme to improve conditions.