The November 24, 2012 fire in the Tazreen Factory (part of Tuba Group) just outside Dhaka led to the deaths of at least 120 workers. The exact death toll is not clear because some workers simply disappeared, probably burnt beyond recognition.
When the fire started in a downstairs part of the factory, company management ordered exit doors locked. This is not an uncommon practice in Bangladesh, as managers worry about theft of products in an emergency situation. There also seemed to be a belief that the fire could be contained while workers continued to work – garment factories work on low margins and tight turnaround times demanded by the brands in western countries.
When the fire got out of control workers were unable to escape. As a result many were burned or suffocated in the factory, or were killed or injured when jumping from upper floors. Even escaping from the upper floors was not easy as the windows were barred. Many workers had to break the blades of giant extractor fans and jump through them.
Since the fire, many workers have been unable to work – many are so injured or traumatized that they will never work again. Many have not been paid the compensation that was promised, and for those who have the amounts are pitiful. Families of missing loved ones are accorded the ultimate indignity – in Bangladesh no body means no compensation.
In the videos below, workers from Tazreen Fashions describe to ABSN their experiences of occupational violence before the fire, the big Walmart order which kept them at the factory late on the night of the fire, and the impact of the fire itself.