Jul 19, 2021
Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.
More than 50 workers were killed and dozens more were injured in a fire at a food factory in a suburb of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 9.
The six-story factory produced candies, jams, and fruit juices. Stocks of flammable products and plastics were stored inside. The fire spread very quickly. Some of the workers had to jump from windows. Others took refuge on the roof, where firefighters evacuated them. But the emergency exits on the third floor were locked, trapping around 50 workers.
In addition to multiple safety violations, the investigation found that the factory employed 11-year-old children, paid 20 cents an hour. The boss and managers were arrested for manslaughter. But even though the judges and authorities will no doubt reiterate that it is important to follow safety guidelines, practices will continue as before.
In 2013, the collapse of Rana Plaza killed more than 1,100 people working under similar conditions, mostly for major European clothing brands. The scandal that ensued seems to have intimidated the textile bosses somewhat. But other factories and apartment buildings continue to burn or collapse, killing hundreds of the poor every year.
For capitalists, the obligation to work safely is only a hindrance, an attack on their freedom to operate. In rich countries, it took decades of workers’ struggles to impose a few rules on them, which they constantly try to break. But in the poor countries their true predatory nature is revealed.