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Disney, Sears used factory that burned


February 19. 2013 7:36PM
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DHAKA, Bangladesh — 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.


Police on Wednesday arrested three factory officials suspected of locking in the workers who died in Saturday's fire, the deadliest in the South Asian country's less than 35-year history of exporting clothing.


Local police chief Habibur Rahman said the three will be questioned amid reports that many workers trying to escape the blaze had been locked inside. He said the owner of the factory was not among those arrested.


The three officials were arrested Wednesday at their homes in Savar, the Dhaka suburb where the factory is located. Rahman did not identify the officials or give their job status.


Workers who survived the fire say exit doors were locked, and a fire official has said that far fewer people would have died if there had been even one emergency exit.


Workers expressed support for the factory owner, Delwar Hossain. Rajib said he is a gentle man who heeded workers when they protested for more pay and against rough behavior by some managers.


He took action and fired some of them, he said. He did not sack any worker. He told us: ‘You are my people. If you survive, I will survive.'




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