Trade group names panel to investigate Bangladesh building collapse

May 2, 2013 at 9:20 AM
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DHAKA, Bangladesh, May 2 (UPI) -- The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association named a committee to investigate the collapse of Rana Plaza in which at least 400 people died.

The organization's second vice president, Mannan Kochi, said the report will be issued 10 days after the panel has been convened, although some questioned the organization's effectiveness in ensuring workers' safety, The Daily Star reported Wednesday.

"We hope the reasons for the building's collapse will be identified in the probe report," BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said.

Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, who led the BGMEA when the Tazreen Fashions fire broke out last November, said the trade body must take some blame for not acting forcefully when the industry faces a disaster.

"We are sincere but we lack expertise and we have to depend on experts," Mohiuddin told The Daily Star.

Islam said a day before the building's collapse on April 24, the trade body asked owners of the five factories not to operate inside Rana Plaza in Savar until experts checked the building. However, factory owners resumed operation without informing the association, he said.

Labor leaders said they are frustrated with the BGMEA's failure to ensure worker safety in garment factories, the Daily Star said.

"It seems that workers have no rights and dignity in Bangladesh," said Nazma Akhter, president of Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation.

"[The BGMEA] formed committees just for show. None of its reports has ever blamed factory owners for any accidents," Akhter said.

Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmmed, assistant executive director of Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies, said new laws were needed to ensure workers' safety in clothing factories.

"Special laws and speedy trial tribunals are required to try those responsible for the deaths of workers," Ahmmed said.

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