Today is Human Rights Day, and tragic factory accidents in recent days serve as a sombre reminder that failure to uphold human rights in the garment industry can be fatal for workers.
Human rights mean a living wage, legal working hours and a safe working environment.
On Sunday morning, over 40 people died in a factory fire in Delhi, India. The fire brought to light numerous human rights violations that pushed up the total number of fatalities. Despite the fire starting in the early hours of Sunday morning when the factory was closed, many workers were asleep in the factory at the time. This raises questions as to whether workers could afford housing or transportation costs. It also indicates that workers may have been expected to work extremely long shifts, finishing late at night and starting early in the morning. Poverty pay and excessive overtime remain pervasive in the garment industry.
Workers were trapped in the burning building due to flagrant violations of health and safety regulations. One of the two staircases in the building was blocked with stored products, windows were barred, and the one accessible exit was locked. At this stage, it is unclear which brands are associated with the factory, but it is critical that they are held to account for the working and safety conditions that allowed the tragedy to happen.
This morning, another tragedy struck on the outskirts of Dakhar, Bangladesh, when a gas heater exploded at 7:45am. Rima Khatun, 20, was walking on the road nearby when the explosion occurred and was killed. Several others were also injured by the explosion.
How many more tragedies will we see before human rights in the garment industry are taken seriously?
Today, on Human Rights Day, our thoughts are with all of those who have lost their lives in these recent tragedies. We will fight to ensure that those injured, and the families of the deceased receive compensation. We cannot do this without the continued support of people like you. Whether you sign a petition, make a donation or take to the streets, your support amplifies the demands of garment workers to have their human rights recognised, and their lives valued.
Join us today, on Human Rights Day, to stand in solidarity with garment workers and ensure that their demands for better working conditions are heard.