Bangladesh orders 18 factories to shut down

Featured South East Asia - May 9th, 2013

Bangladeshi authorities have shuttered 18 garment plants across two cities in an attempt to prevent a recurrence of the tragic building collapse outside Dhaka that killed more than 800.

Textiles minister Abdul Latif Siddique told reporters in the capital that 16 garment factories in Dhaka and two in Chittagong were ordered to halt operations, adding that more plants would be shut because of strict new measures to ensure safety.

The government in a joint statement with the International Labour Organization said it would give safety “the highest consideration”.

Factories in Bangladesh’s garment industry, the country’s largest sector, face increased scrutiny after the collapse of the eight-storey Rana Plaza last month and a factory fire that claimed 112 lives in November. Both incidents were blamed on unsafe working conditions.

The death toll from the building collapse has now climbed past 800 while more bodies are expected to be recovered from the rubble as rescuers continue to remove debris and slabs of concrete.

A United Nations expert group has urged international clothing brands sourcing products in Bangladesh not to pull out of the country but to cooperate with the government, international organizations, and civil society to address working conditions, reports AFP.