Solis calls for investigation, change following Bangladesh factory fire

December 5, 2012

Washington – Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recently called on Bangladeshi officials to investigate the Nov. 24 garment fire in that country that killed more than 100 workers, and to institute changes.

“Investigations should be conducted and the perpetrators punished, but things cannot then return to business as usual,” Solis said in a Nov. 29 statement. Noting “change is not easy,” she added that the Department of Labor would provide the Bangladesh government with technical assistance to improve workers’ rights.

The clothing factory blaze killed at least 117 people and injured more than 200, according to news reports, and three managers accused of locking the factory’s main gate have been arrested.

Solis compared the incident to a deadly fire in 1911 that tore through a New York garment factory and killed 146 workers. The tragedy was considered a watershed moment for worker rights in the United States, revitalizing the labor movement and spurring several new workplace safety laws.