Fire in a Bangladesh Garment Factory
On November 2012, a fire in a garment factory near the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka killed 112 people and injured several hundred. The factory was owned by Tazreen Fashions Ltd., a subsidiary of The Tuba Group, a large Bangladeshi garment exporter whose clients included Wal-Mart, Carrefour, C&A, Kmart, and Li & Fung. The factory opened in May 2010, employed about 1,500 workers, and had sales of $35 million a year from the production of clothing such as T-shirts, polo shirts, and fleece jackets. In the aftermath of the fire, questions were raised about accountability. Some people argued that the factory owners and the regulators who establish Bangladesh fire safety standards were responsible. Others said that Western clothing companies and retailers who rely on low-cost clothing manufacturing in Bangladesh should ensure that their suppliers have safe factories or take their business elsewhere. Some assigned the blame to Western consumers’ desire for cheap clothing that forced retailers to constantly look for low-cost manufacturing locations.
Depending on the audience, there are various ways to use this case. The case can be used to examine global supply chains and the reasons why multinational companies produce clothing in developing countries like Bangladesh. The case can be used to examine the ethical questions associated with accountability, responsibility, and supplier/contractor management. The issue of safety management in a global supply can also be an important issue for discussion.