Echo

Factory Fire In Bangladesh Questions Exploitation Of Workers  

Posted by Rezwan

Bangladesh has more 4,000 ready-made clothes factories of different sizes, which are earning more than three-quarters of the countries export revenue. The world’s third-largest garments export industry employs more than 3 million workers, 90% of whom are women.

Over two decades these garments factories contributed to changing the role of poor Bangladeshi women who mostly used to work as housemaids. Although the cost of labor is low Vikas Bajaj wrote in the New York Times what positive impact this industry had on the families and off-springs of the female workers and how it empowered them.

As a developing country Bangladesh is under close scrutiny by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and Corporate Social Responsibility Stakeholders regarding compliance. In the past five years both CSR experts and buyers report improved labor and social compliance standards. But there are still some areas of compliance that needs further improvement. The government has been stringent on eradicating child labor and increased fire safety measures but some entrepreneurs are more keen on profit rather than improving working conditions.

The factory destroyed by fire killing more than 100 workers. Image by Ibrahim. Copyright Demotix (25/11/2012)


The recent tragic fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd's nine story factory building in Nischintapur, Ashulia (near the Capital Dhaka) that killed more than 110 garments workers, has raised many questions. Although the factory had a total of 335 fire extinguishing equipment and 300 trained employees to fight fire in emergency situations, there was no visible efforts to douse the flames. The fire alarm went off at right time but witnesses claimed that a number of doors were locked by the management preventing the workers from escaping.

As the images of burnt bodies emerged in the social media and in TV broadcasts many people were shocked and outraged. Thousands of angry garments workers protested today (Monday) demanding justice and better working conditions. Many netizens vented their rage in Facebook, blog and other social media asking many questions.
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Protests In Phulbari Against Open Pit Coal Mining Project  

Posted by Rezwan

In Phulbari, 350 kilometers northwest of the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, local communities have come together to raise their voices against the proposed Phulbari open pit coal mining project. On November 23, 2012 the authorities had imposed Section 144 banning gatherings of more than four people indefinitely in effort to stop the demonstrations. Thousands of people took to the streets defying the ban and today is the second day[bn] of general strike in Phulbari.
Bangladesh is sitting on a considerable amount of coal and gas reserve and in 1997, when the Phulbari coal reserve (572 mill tonne) [bn] was discovered, it caught everybody's attention. The licensee of the mining project Asia Energy PLC from UK chose the open pit method, a polluting method of surface mining, which promises 80% extraction. The project, if implement fully, will acquire more than 100 villages within a 59 sq. km radius and relocate hundreds of thousands of inhabitants.

Protests in Phulbari, the police is keeping watch. Image by Shahriar Sunny.

Making a Difference  

Posted by Rezwan

On September 15 I was in Cox's Bazar to attend the International Coastal Cleanup Day event arranged by Kewkaradong Bangladesh. I have written in details about it which has been published in the 9th edition of TRINO, Bangladesh's top adventure magazine. You can read it here (Page 15-21):
Please click here if the above doesn't work. I have taken a number of pictures during that trip. You can find them here and here.

Live Blogging US Elctions  

Posted by Rezwan

As per CNN exit polls the contest seems to be neck-a neck. People are getting frustrated in the slow pace of election results. Please click on this link or this link for the latest standings.
 The latest standings as on 10:47 pm Washington Time:




At 11:06 pm Washington Time:


11:29 pm Washington Time: Links: Sajib is live blogging from Bangladesh For a Bengali version of Sajib's blog, see here. You can also follow the Facebook page of U.S. Embassy in Dhaka for live updates. More updates coming..