On 9 July a fire at the Shezan Juice food and drink factory outside the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka killed dozens of workers.
Initial reports confirmed 52 deaths, but searches were ongoing. 49 died from the fire and three after jumping from third floor windows; dozens were injured in that way. Some of the murdered workers were children.
The workers were trapped by an illegally locked door. Yet Abul Hashem, chairman and managing director of Sajeeb Group, which owned the factory, has refused to accept any responsibility and blamed “workers’ carelessness”.
For years Bangladesh has seen repeated fires in factories and elsewhere. The Bangladeshi government, run by the occasionally left-talking but completely capitalist, deeply corrupt and authoritarian Awami League, has complained about the deaths. But it is allied with the country’s factory-owners and has taken little action to change anything.
Reports say the Shezan Juice factory was visited by government inspectors last month and that they ignored its numerous glaring safety problems.
Trial proceedings against the owners of the Rana Plaza factory complex, which collapsed in 2013 killing over a thousand people, have gone nowhere. Both Abul Hashem and Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana have stood as Awami League candidates.
Bangladesh has also seen many workers’ struggles, particularly by garment workers. Shortly after the fire hundreds of workers gathered outside the remains of the Shezan Juice facility to demand unpaid wages and allowances for June.
• The No Sweat campaign supports workers organising in Bangladesh: nosweat.org.uk