Following the unfortunate deaths of at least 120 people in the blaze that engulfed a garment factory in Bangladesh, what must be highlighted is that such dangers will be an unfortunate fact of life while the garment industry continues to mushroom to meet the ceaseless demands of manufacturers from all over the world.

This attitude must change with some serious prohibitive measures put in place so that such incidents do not happen again. The international corporate giants, that factories in Bangladesh cater to, take the finished products — which they buy for a pittance from the manufacturers — and sell them for huge profits. They are bound by law in their countries to ensure the well-being of their employees by providing them with an environment that is safe and secure. It is therefore incumbent upon them to be at least be morally responsible for the well-being of their distributors abroad. This can be done by extending their policies abroad and entering into agreements with factory owners and local authorities.

The company that was gutted had received a ‘high risk’ safety rating after a process of ‘ethical sourcing’ done by a multinational company. They did not specify what led to that rating, but there was a disaster waiting to happen. And it did. All stakeholders — factory owners, local authorities and the international clients — must share proportionate blame. The livelihoods of thousands has now been affected.