UN urges Bangladesh to close unsafe factories

Eurasia News

The UN’s labour agency urged Bangladesh to close unsafe factories as rescuers Saturday pulled more bodies from the wreckage of the nation’s worst industrial disaster in which at least 548 have died.

The collapse of the eight-storey garment factory complex outside Dhaka last week was the latest in a string of catastrophes to befall the country’s $20 billion textile industry which accounts for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports.

Action is needed to ensure such “avoidable accidents” that tarnish the image of Bangladesh’s industrial image never recur, said Gilbert Houngbo, field operations deputy director-general at the International Labour Organization.

Impoverished Bangladesh, with its population of 153 million, has just 50 plant inspectors to ensure the safety of its tens of thousands of factories including an estimated 4,500 garment plants.

After the April 24 disaster the government announced plans for an inspection blitz as it came under pressure from Western brand names to institute a “credible” safety regime in an industry with a shocking record.