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Workers Want Jobs Back After Dhaka Fire

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A recent article from the Associated Press highlighted a surprising aspect of the recent Bangladesh factory fire. Workers who escaped the fire want the factory to rebuild so they can continue earning wages.

In interviews ,several of the surviving workers — all women, like many garment makers — expressed the need to get back to work. The women have little or no savings and are the primary breadwinners for their families.

Their wages of $57 – $87 dollars per month, though small by western standards, enabled them to buy food, pay rent, pay medical expenses, send their children to school, and send money back to their villages.

Without garment work, they will likely have to leave Dhaka and return to a much poorer, more rural life. In the predominantly Muslim country, that means leaving behind the independence that comes with working. So the women are agitating for Tazreen Fashions to rebuild the plant.

Major brands and retailers have disavowed Tazreen after it emerged that the factory lacked emergency exits, and rumors are swirling that three managers may have had workers locked in when the fire started. The interviewed workers survived by jumping out of windows, and many are now injured.

The Pakistani government is granting compensation of $2500 to families of workers who died and $625 to the injured. If this compensation is actually dispensed, it will help the workers temporarily, but in a country where 1/3 of the population is in extreme poverty, the workers need jobs more than they need compensation.

Walmart and Disney both had clothes in the factory, though they had labeled it high risk and requested that subcontractors not use it.

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