News / Asia

Bangladeshi Garment Factories Reopen

Relatives mourn as they look for a garment worker, who is missing after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, outside Dhaka, May 2, 2013. Relatives mourn as they look for a garment worker, who is missing after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, outside Dhaka, May 2, 2013.
x
Relatives mourn as they look for a garment worker, who is missing after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, outside Dhaka, May 2, 2013.
Relatives mourn as they look for a garment worker, who is missing after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, outside Dhaka, May 2, 2013.
Aru Pande
Tens of thousands of workers have returned to textile factories in Bangladesh's capital a week after the collapse of a factory compound that killed more than 420 people. 

Eight days after walking off their jobs, Bangladeshi garment workers - the backbone of the country’s $20 billion textile industry - returned to work on Thursday.

Rescuers continued to pull bodies from the rubble of a factory compound that collapsed on April 24.  More than 2,000 people have been rescued and some 150 others remain unaccounted for.

Even as Bangladeshis bury their dead, the vice president of Bangladesh’s Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Shahidullah Azim, says that his organization is working with the building authority and taking all measures to prevent future tragedies.

"We have joint team which will inspect the suspected factories which have problems of cracks or whatever," he said. "If we receive any information [on suspected infrastructure problems], we have a team and immediately they will move and make the report."

Still, garment workers and activists say they have heard such promises before.  Just six months ago, more than 100 people died in a textile factory fire in Dhaka, with many workers jumping out of windows to escape the flames.

Alonzo Suson with the Bangladesh Center for Workers' Solidarity says he is not convinced that working conditions will change in a country where most garment workers earn less than $50 a month.

He says a 16-year-old garment worker whose arm was amputated after the collapse told him she was not forced to go to work on that fateful day, but was told she would lose a week’s worth of pay if she didn’t enter the compound.

"Already pay is so low that it’s [about] survival. So yes, they [garment workers] are going to work. They know that some of the factories they are working in are unsafe, but they also need to survive, so it’s a vicious circle," he said.

Suson says Bangladesh’s garment industry needs greater transparency, more inspectors and national building codes. He says only 25 to 30 factories have unions, and most were formed in the last six months.

Activists say the responsibility also falls on global retailers and shoppers who buy clothes made in such working conditions.

Meanwhile, the owner of the collapsed compound remains in police custody in Dhaka as protesters call for the death penalty in his case. 

  • A man walks at the site where a garment factory building collapsed on April 24 in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 13, 2013.
  • Reshma Begum, center, the 19-year-old seamstress who spent 17 days trapped in the rubble of a collapsed factory building talks to the media at a hospital in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 13, 2013.
  • Rescuers carry a survivor pulled out from the rubble of a building that collapsed in Saver, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 10, 2013.
  • People work in the rubble of a collapsed garment factory in Savar near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 10, 2013.
  • Rescuers carry the body of a victim from the rubble of a building that collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh, May 7, 2013.
  • A woman cries after she identified her relative's body that was recovered from the rubble of a collapsed garment factory building, Savar, Bangladesh, May 3, 2013.
  • The remaining standing part of the collapsed Rana Plaza building collapses during a rescue operation by the army in Savar, Bangladesh, May 2, 2013.
  • Relatives mourn as they look for garment workers, missing after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, May 2, 2013.
  • Workers dig mass graves during a burial of unidentified garment workers, who died in the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, May 1, 2013.
  • A boy covers his nose with a cloth as people gather in front of mass graves during the burial of unidentified garment workers, who died in the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, May 1, 2013.
  • A woman waits for news of her relative, a garment worker, who is missing after the collapse of Rana Plaza building, in front of missing people posters in Savar, Bangladesh, April 30, 2013.
  • Firefighters and army personnel are blanketed in thick dust after part of the garment factory building collapses after being dislodged as part of the clearing process in Savar, near Dhaka, April 29, 2013.
  • Crowds gather at the collapsed Rana Plaza building as people rescue garment workers trapped in the rubble, Savar, Bangladesh, April 24, 2013.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid