More than a thousand people are dead in a Dhaka garment factory; world’s worst industrial disaster since 1984 Bhopal Tragedy. The question is who is responsible for the death of 1,100 people in Dhaka, Bangladesh?
A several-story building filled with garment factory workers collapsed in Dhaka killing more than a thousand people. This is not the first time it has happened, last September in Karachi, Pakistan a garment factory caught fire killing 300 people. The primary responsibility for the wrongful death of these workers lies with corrupt politicians and public officials in these countries. They are bribed by the rich who wants to get richer overnight. The developer of these factories cut corners on the quality of construction materials and methods to save more money and they bribe public officials to look the other way, building permits and certificates of safety are issued to these property owners without due diligence. In these countries rich and powerful are above the law, and only poor and powerless have to abide by laws. It is the greed and an inured social conscience of the society that allows this kind of repeated depravity towards human life, and this greed and corruption is totally home-grown.
Now do foreign corporations bear some responsibility? Yes they do. If foreign corporations can demand and get strict quality control over the cutting and stitching of their merchandise than they can also demand proper fire and work safety standards at these factories. The tragedy is that getting minimum work place fire safety is not that expensive, no equipment need to be imported or installed, all they need to do is not put bars and locks on every door and window. The flammable materials should be properly stored and disposed and there should be access to fire extinguishers and water hoses. Should foreign corporations be held responsible for building and construction codes and their implementation, off course not, they can not be held responsible for shoddy construction in Karachi or Dhaka. That is the responsibility of local governments. They should be inspecting buildings and doing it not just for garment factories but for every structure built in the city.
Several of the biggest corporations including H&M, Zara, C&A, Tesco and Primark, have signed a legally binding contract to help finance fire safety and building improvements in the factories they use in Bangladesh. The question is why it took so long for these corporations to do the right thing which they knew was wrong and would lead to loss of life? I guess these corporations have their own bottom line to meet.