Workers: Managers Locked Us in Burning Factory
3 supervisors arrested on suspicion of negligence
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2012 7:30 AM CST
Bangladeshis and firefighters battle a fire at a garment factory in the Savar neighborhood in Dhaka, Bangladesh, late Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012.   (AP Photo/Polash Khan)

(Newser) – Survivors of the devastating Bangladesh garment factory fire tell a harrowing tale to human rights and labor groups: As the alarms sounded, managers—assuming it was a false alarm and not wanting workers to leave—shut the security gates, locking workers inside. The police and fire departments confirmed the "gates were locked on each floor," a director of one human rights group tells ABC News. "The fire department said they had to come in with bolt cutters to cut the locks." Three supervisors have been arrested, accused of locking the exits and keeping workers from escaping, the BBC reports.

The owner of the factory, meanwhile, told the Daily Star newspaper "it was my fault," the AP reports. But he says he was never told the factory should have an emergency exit. The government is still calling the fire an act of sabotage, and police have also arrested two people seen on video attempting to start a fire in another factory, Reuters reports. There was also a fire at another factory Monday and an explosion at a third facility Tuesday, leading to concerns that someone is trying to sabotage the entire industry. Meanwhile, protests are raging near Dhaka for the third day, with thousands of textile workers demanding safer work conditions.

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Showing 3 of 6 comments
Nov 29, 2012 9:27 AM CST
But he says he was never told the factory should have an emergency exit. And this Einstein is running a business that global buyers do business with ?? WTF And you can call me............Mr Joshua
Nov 29, 2012 8:35 AM CST
Nov 29, 2012 8:15 AM CST
(clipped from article) The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. Because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits – a common practice at the time to prevent pilferage and unauthorized breaks – many of the workers who could not escape the burning building jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors to the streets below. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers. (unclip) This is what a union is for... to protect people.