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Friday, December 7, 2012
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Will safety measures be taken in RMG factories?

On March 25th, 1911, a terrible fire broke out in Triangle Shirtwaist, a garments factory in New York. One hundred and forty six people died, most of them young women.

The fire started as the workday was ending, from a cigarette butt that was thrown into a garbage bin. The workers became aware of the fire as soon as they noticed smoke coming from the eighth floor. They rushed towards the stairwell. However, the doors and exits typically remained locked by the managers to prevent theft. Some managed to get to the roof, a few others made to the ground safely by using an elevator. Sixty two workers jumped to their deaths as the heat of the flames became unbearable. Fire engulfed the remaining ones. The two owners of the factory were taken to court but were later acquitted of the charges. But maybe, here is where the similarity ends with the latest garment factory fire at Ashulia. After the New York fire, there was a huge outcry from the public. The government introduced a series of tough safety laws and owners were held accountable for any violations. For American factory workers, a safe work environment has been a right ever since.

Will the latest Ashulia fire bring in a positive change to the safety of the very workers who contribute to 80% of the country's export earnings? Or will this end as the other fires with no accountability and a few speeches and visits by dignitaries?

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