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Dhaka Tribune

Gazipur factory fire hits livelihood of RMG workers

Update : 30 Nov 2013, 08:52 PM

Ranjhana, 28, who is currently seven months pregnant, was left distraught on Friday as some unruly workers set fire to her workplace, a Standard Group garment factory in Konabari industrial area of Gazipur.

She had been working with the garment factory for over 10 years, but now, her livelihood and the future of her children is in tatters following Friday’s fire.

“The owner of the factory had promised me a special allowance for my coming children and I was waiting for that, but...” she could not complete the sentence while talking to the Dhaka Tribune as she was weeping.

Another worker, Melal Hossain, who was working at the factory as a quality inspector, said: “I have considered the workplace as my family. Now, after the fire broke out, we are left in dire conditions.”

Melal’s wife was also working at the same factory thus the couple’s livelihood is now in serious crisis.

Like Melal and Ranjhana there were several hundreds of workers who depended solely on the wage from this factory. With their only source of income burnt to ashes, they see an uncertain future ahead.

Almost all the workers at the Standard Group were seen waiting outside the factory building for the whole day on Saturday with blank looks in their eyes.

Following a rumour of the deaths of two fellow employees, agitated workers had set fire to three buildings of the group, vehicles, and all the finished products of the Standard Group’s garment units.

The workers, however, alledge that the destruction was not unleased by agitating workers; rather it was part of a pre-planned conspiracy.

“No workers from the Standard Group, nor from any other units can set fire to a garment factory. There must be some sort of conspiracy behind this,” Mina, who worked as a sewing helper at the factory said.

On November 28, some 40-50 workers had initiated a rally in front of the factory, trying to enter its premises and engaging in clashes with police.

Later, several workers allege, they announced through a loudspeaker from a nearby mosque that two workers had been killed. They then entered the factory at around 11:30pm that night. They set fire to all the covered vans parked inside and set fire to all the floors in the main building.

“All three buildings, 18 covered vans full of finished products, 13 other vehicles, and all other materials inside the factory were burnt down to ashes,” Standard Group head office General Manager Rezaul Karim said.

Gazipur Industrial Police Assistant Police Super M Mosharrof Hossain said some criminals had launched the arson attack in a pre-planned way.

None except fire service workers were being allowed to enter the building due to safety and security concerns.

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