Bangladesh factory workers demand compensation

By Julhas Alam

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 30 2012 6:47 a.m. MST

Bangladeshi garment workers shout slogans as they participate in a protest to mourn the death of the victims of a fire in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Hundreds of garment workers protested Friday outside the Bangladeshi factory where 112 people were killed by the fire, demanding compensation for their lost salaries. The banner reads: "We demand financial help for the workers."

Pavel Rahman, Associated Press

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Hundreds of garment workers protested Friday outside a Bangladeshi factory where 112 people were killed by a fire, demanding compensation for their lost salaries.

About 300 workers chanted "Want Justice" and "Want Compensation" in front of the closed Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory in a Dhaka suburb. The factory was making clothes for Wal-Mart, Sears, Disney and other major global retailers, though the companies said they did not know there clothes were being made there.

The factory, which was guarded by police, has been closed since the fatal fire last weekend.

Police have arrested three factory officials suspected of locking in the workers during the blaze. Fire officials said the factory had no emergency exits and workers said yarn and clothes blocked part of a stairway.

But in a sign of how important such jobs are in this impoverished country, the protesters Friday said they wanted the facility to reopen so they could get back to work.

"We want the owner to reopen the factory as soon as possible or pay us a few months of salary because we have nowhere else to go right at this moment," said Hasan, a worker who escaped the fire and uses only one name.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said it would pay 100,000 takas ($1,300) in initial compensation to the families of the dead and would then give them their deceased relative's monthly salary for at least 10 years.

The $20 billion a year garment business represents 80 percent of Bangladesh's exports.

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