Another week and more lives claimed in the name of cheap garment production.
Over three-years ago the Rana Plaza disaster shocked the world, killing over a thousand garment factory workers and injuring over two thousand more. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Despite the industry’s efforts to clean up its supply chain and take responsibility, disasters, poor working conditions and exploitation are still rife in factories across the world.
The latest disaster (11/11/16) claimed the lives of thirteen workers in a fire at a suspected illegal garment factory. The blaze took place in the early hours of the morning in Sahibabad, just outside of New Delhi, India, and the workers were said to be sleeping on the first floor.
The factory, set up in a residential area, was being used to make fake leather jackets, piles of material were found stacked in the narrow staircase and the evidence points towards an illegal set up. Fire officer Abbas Hussain told the press that an official investigation would be needed to assess if the factory was legal.
Residents were awoken by the screams of those trapped inside as the fire spread quickly through the building. The police confirmed that 13 people had died from the incident, and a further two or three were being treated in the hospital. Initial findings indicate that the fire was caused either by a short circuit or a cigarette. The police have confirmed that the two building owners had been detained.
The fire highlights India’s poor record within the garment manufacturing sector. While larger factories are regularly inspected and audited many illegal units are set up and work is sub-contracted out, often without the clients knowledge.
Residents in the Sahibabad neighbourhood have described that many illegal factories have been set up in the area and they mostly employ underpaid migrant workers. Health and safety is of low priority and the buildings used are simply not fit for purpose.
This fire unfortunately joins a very long list of those that have died trying to earn a living within the tough garment manufacturing sector. Too many lives have been lost and the pressure is now firmly on for the industry to readdress the balance.