Bangladesh Fire Victims: We Need Those Jobs Back

Garment factories are among few with stable wages

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 3, 2012 7:44 AM CST

(Newser) – Dipa Akter, 19, made $57 per month working at the Bangladesh garment factory that was destroyed in a fire last month. She only escaped the fate of 112 of her co-workers by jumping from the third floor after 25 minutes spent desperately trying to get down the stairs. And yet, she says, "If the factory owner reopens the factory sometime soon, we will work again here." She and her co-workers have no choice: Dangerous though it may be, factory work like this is one of the few ways for people in the impoverished nation to make a stable income.

The AP takes a look at more workers' tragic stories. "If I am not compensated, I have to start begging. I have to move to the street," says a 20-year-old woman who escaped the fire unharmed. Many employees want to be compensated four months' salary, but so far the government has only promised $2,500 to families of the dead, $625 to the injured—and just November's salary to the uninjured. Meanwhile, it's not clear if or when the factory will reopen. "I worked hard to support my family," says the 20-year-old. "But now I have no place to go."

In this photo taken on Friday Nov. 29, 2012, Roksana, 20, left, a survivor of a garment factory fire, sits in her house in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
In this photo taken on Friday Nov. 29, 2012, Roksana, 20, left, a survivor of a garment factory fire, sits in her house in Dhaka, Bangladesh.   (AP Photo/ Ashraful Alam Tito)
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