July 10, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Urbana-Champaign (July 10, 2017): At least 13 Bangladeshi garments workers died and several have been injured on July 3, 2017 when an expired boiler exploded and the building partially collapsed at the non-unionized Multifabs Ltd. apparel factory in Gazipur, Dhaka. We, the Graduate Employees Organization at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign IFT/AFT Local 6300 AFL-CIO, are extending our condolences to the families of workers who died and our support for the injured and their families.
The boiler explosion makes evident that since the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse, arguably the world’s largest industrial disaster, workplace safety hasn’t been secured for the majority of garments workers in Bangladesh. The exploded boiler at Multifabs Ltd. expired last month on June 24. Disregarding the expiration date, factory authorities asked workers to resume normal operation of the boiler on the day of the explosion. Alongside factory owners, the Bangladeshi government is complicit in boiler-related deaths and injuries. For the over 5,500 approved boilers across the country, the Office of the Chief Inspector of Boiler runs with only 5 inspectors. Boiler-related worker deaths are therefore murders by negligence. In a mockery of accountability procedures, the police are suing three dead boiler operators of Multifabs Ltd. over the boiler explosion.
In solidarity with Bangladeshi garments workers, we echo their demands. We demand that the police drop the charges on workers. We demand that all responsible parties—factory authorities and government officials—are held accountable for Multifabs Ltd. boiler explosion. We demand that all brands manufacturing garments at Multifabs Ltd., factory owners, and the Bangladeshi government ensure that complete medical support is provided without cost to workers, and full and fair compensations are paid based on total loss of earning to the families of the workers who died in the explosion as well as to the injured workers. We demand that holistic steps are taken to improve safety in the Bangladeshi garments industry. We understand that workers’ safety can only be secured if workers have the right to organize and join unions. Therefore, we demand that the right to unionize and form trade unions in all garments factories without any threat or harm be respected and secured.
The Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2,700 Teaching and Graduate Assistants on the UIUC Campus. In November 2009, over 1,000 GEO members successfully went on strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.
More information can also be found on GEO’s website at www.uigeo.org.