- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
AP reporters sifted through the wreckage of the Tarzeen Fashions Ltd. factory in Bangladesh that burned to the ground last weekend killing 112 workers, and found merchandise from a number of popular western brands:
Much of the clothing on the lower floors was incinerated. Nightgowns, children’s shorts, pants, jackets and sweat shirts were strewn about, piled up in some places, boxed in others. Cartons of kids’ hooded sweaters, off-white with red and black print, were marked "Disney Pixar."
Among the Disney garments was a gray sweatshirt emblazoned with the image of Lightning McQueen, the star of Pixar’s `’Cars" movies.
A pair of blue ENYCE shorts was still on a sewing machine.
There were also at least four register books listing buyers including Wal-Mart, Disney, Sears and other companies. Also listed was Li & Fung, a Hong Kong-based buying house that is among the biggest suppliers of garment products from Bangladesh. Li & Fung issued a statement Monday saying it placed orders at the factory for just one company, Kids Headquarters, and that the value of those orders totaled just $111,000.
Wal-Mart claims that it stopped using the factory because of labor complaints last year but that a subcontractor had continued placing orders there.
Three factory officials were arrested on Wednesday amid reports that workers trying to escape had been locked inside the factory. Authorities have not ruled out arson. According to the AP, more than 300 workers there have died in fires since 2006.
In recent years, the iconic case for labor rights in Asia has been China’s now world-famous Foxconn electronics factories. While much of that attention was certainly warranted, the Tarzeen fire is a reminder that while Enyce shorts may not be as glamorous a product as the iPad, many of the worse abuses are happening in more out-of-the-way corners of the global supply chain.