Joe Fresh clothes made at factory in collapsed Bangladesh building
Published Wednesday, April 24, 2013 4:50PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 25, 2013 6:20AM EDT
A factory in a Bangladesh building that collapsed Wednesday, killing more than 190 people, produced clothes for the popular Canadian clothing retailer Joe Fresh and various international brands.
By Thursday morning, junior minister for Home Affairs Shamsul Haque said that a total of 2,000 people had been rescued from the wreckage of the collapsed eight-storey building.
Brig. Gen. Mohammed Siddiqul Alam Shikder, who is overseeing army rescue teams, told The Associated Press the death toll had climbed to 194 as of Thursday afternoon.
Workers at the Rana Plaza, just outside the capital city of Dhaka, said large cracks were visible in the building's structure ahead of the collapse, but a factory manager told them it was safe to go inside.
Shortly afterward, the structure caved in.
"No shaking, no indication. It just collapsed on us,” 25-year-old worker Sumi told The Associated Press.
After a photo of a Joe Fresh label amid the rubble made the rounds online, the brand’s parent company, Loblaws Inc., released a statement.
“We are extremely saddened to learn of the collapse of a building complex in Bangladesh and our condolences go out to those affected by this tragedy,” the company said.
“The large complex, housing a commercial bank and shopping mall, also included a factory that produced a small number of Joe Fresh apparel items for Loblaws Inc. We will be working with our vendor to understand how we may be able to assist them during this time.”
Last November, a fire at Bangladesh’s Tazreen garment factory killed more than 100 people, drawing attention to poor working conditions in the country’s textile industry.
International workers’ rights groups have been critical of Western companies that use poorly maintained factories in Bangladesh and elsewhere to cheaply manufacture their merchandise.
Loblaws said Wednesday it requires its vendors to meet certain requirements “to ensure that products are being manufactured in a socially responsible way.”
The company’s standards specifically prohibit child harassment or abuse and forced labour, Loblaws said. “Fair pay” and health and safety regulations are also enforced, it said.
“We audit against these standards on a regular basis.”
The building complex also housed businesses that make clothing for The Children’s Place and Benetton, among other brands.
With files from The Associated Press