Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Demonstrators target Primark as Bangladesh factory owner arrested

Demonstrators targeted Primark’s Oxford Street store over the weekend as the owner of the factory complex, which collapsed in Bangladesh last week killing at least 377 people, was arrested.

Mohammed Sohel Rana, who had not been seen since Wednesday’s collapse of the eight storey building, which supplied clothing to multinational retailers including Primark and Mango, was flown back to the capital Dhaka by police helicopter from the country’s border. His wife had already been arrested.

Rana had approval to construct five floors but added three more floors illegally, it has been reported.

A further nine survivors were found yesterday, in addition to the 29 rescued alive on Saturday. However a fire broke out as rescuers tried to cut through steel yesterday injuring three people and killing one, the AFP agency reported.

The building housed five clothing factories employing 3,122 staff. It is not known how many people were in the building when it collapsed however 2,500 people have been accounted for.

Police have arrested three factory bosses – Mahmudur Rahman Tapash, chairman of New Wave Apparels, its managing director Bazlus Samad and Aminul Islam, chairman of Phantom Apparels – as well as two engineers who approved the building’s design.

Campaign group War on Want targeted Primark’s store at the west end of Oxford Street on Saturday carrying placards. They have called for the retailer to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement to end the “appallingly unsafe factory conditions” in the Asian nation.

Primark said last week it is seeking an agreed methodology for testing the integrity of buildings where there are multiple factories on multiple floors with different tenants. “It is not easy to agree how this will be achieved, but this is what the company is seeking and it will ask the ETI [Ethical Trading Initiative] to look into this issue,” a Primark spokesman said.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Before we point fingers at Primark or any other retailer sourcing from Bangladesh should take a closer look at Bangladesh’s Governments lack of ambition. With over 4000 factories and one of the country’s biggest foreign currency earners and employers...what has the Government done to protect, secure and create an environment for global retailers to be associated with the Country.
    It is not global retailers who add pricing pressure- costings are very logical - majority of all raw materials are the same in any other part of the world. The only advantage is GSP and monthly salary cost- all other factors are virtually the same in any other part of the world.
    In Bangladesh each factory requires a min of 16 certificates each from different government agencies to trade; the level of corruption involved to ‘buy’ these certificates is beyond belief; the level of bureaucracy created by agency staff if the factory owners do not provide ‘financial incentives is beyond understanding. There is not a single political member of the ruling party or the opposition who in some way or other does not have a vested interest in the garment Industry.
    Let’s be clear on what is driving the real pressure on pricing thing for sure it is not the global retailers; the pricing pressure is driven by Greed and Corruption at every stage;
    • Greed: from factory owners (driving the latest high end four wheel drives and living lavish lifestyles) drain the business
    • Corruption: merchandisers in sourcing offices who take anything from 5% to 10% commission form factory owners to placing orders.
    • Corruption: customs departments for incoming raw materials to be released with the minimum amount of bureaucracy hindrances.
    • Corruption: Sourcing office QC’s who charge 1 taka per piece they approve- if their demand is not met the goods go for continuous re-screening.
    • Corruption: factory merchandisers who receive kick backs from polybag to carton suppliers for orders placed.
    • Lack of respect for legislation: how many factories trade in buildings that have been condemned – inspectors paid to look the other way.
    • Factory owners are forced to keep monthly salaries down to compensate for the cost of corruption.
    What has the Bangladesh government done to support the industry?
    • How many apparel parks have been created to support the industry?
    • Why not one government agency to manage the compliance for factory set up?
    • What infrastructure projects are in place to support the industry in the next 10 years?
    • How can a country with Foreign Reserves in excess of $14bn- do nothing to support global retailers who have contributed to Bangladesh’s growth?
    It is about time the Bangladesh Government takes responsibility and cleans up its act and stops accepting greed and corruption as a way of life; pointing fingers at the western retailers who work incredibility hard to support the country is not the solution.
    One point to note- the bank on the ground floor sealed their offices as soon as they were informed of the cracks- staff were sent home...what other than greed and lack of responsibility for his work force did the owner force his workers to enter the building.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • While Primark and the other firms involved including the usa firms are trying their best to achieve proper and safe working conditions it is not always achieveable...when you chase price at the expense of all else these incidents while horific are bound to price forces the retailor to continue to search for new and cheaper markets ...its a cycle that is hard to stop...there is a cost to safety and proper working conditions and until the retailor feels that the consumer is willing to pay a reasonable price there will continue to be incidents like this..

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • At the same time who is forcing us to manufacture in these countries? No one. We all have a choice. I made the decision to not manufacture there. We all need to wake up from chasing price to the bottom as we know where that leads us.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.