|November 28, 2012
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Amid the ash, broken glass and melted sewing machines at what is left of the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory, there are piles of blue, red and off-white children’s shorts bearing Wal-Mart’s Faded Glory brand. Shorts from hip-hop star Sean Combs’ ENYCE label lay on the floor, along with a hooded Mickey Mouse sweatshirt from Disney.
An Associated Press reporter searching the Bangladesh factory Wednesday found these and other clothes, including sweaters from the French company Teddy Smith and the Scottish company Edinburgh Woollen Mill, among the equipment charred in the fire that killed 112 workers on Saturday. He also found entries in account books indicating that the factory took orders to produce clothes for Disney, Sears and other Western brands.
Garments and documents left behind in the factory show it was used by a host of major American and European retailers, though at least one of them – Wal-Mart – had been aware of safety problems. Wal-Mart blames a supplier for using Tazreen Fashions without its knowledge.
The fire has elevated awareness of something labor groups, retailers and governments have known for years: Bangladesh’s fast-growing garment industry – second only to China’s in exports – is rife with dangerous workplaces. More than 300 workers there have died in fires since 2006.