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Read Solis’ statement on the Bangladesh fire

November 30, 2012

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Safety doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and tragedies halfway around the world can affect anyone. In light of the Nov. 24 Bangladesh factory fire, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis implored officials in that country to take steps to investigate and institute workplace safety changes. Here’s her full statement:

This past Saturday, Bangladesh suffered one of the worst industrial accidents in its history. A devastating fire swept through the Tazreen Fashion garment factory, killing more than 100 and injuring many more. I join U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan Mozena in extending heartfelt condolences to the people of Bangladesh and the many families who lost their loved ones.

Just over a century ago, in March 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City burned to the ground, killing 146 people, mainly young women. That fire was our call to action. It galvanized support for stronger worker protections and institutions to enforce them, from workplace health and safety to workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively.

The Tazreen Fashion factory fire is a similar call to action for Bangladesh and also for the many international buyers supplied by the country’s garment factories. Investigations should be conducted and the perpetrators punished, but things cannot then return to business as usual. I know that change is not easy. The U.S. Department of Labor stands ready to help, with technical assistance and expertise, to work with the government of Bangladesh to ensure that this horrific tragedy becomes a watershed moment for Bangladeshi workers’ rights.

The opinions expressed in "Washington Wire" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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