Burned Bangladesh factory was warned twice on fire safety
By Serajul Quadir
DHAKA (Reuters) - The Bangladeshi factory producing clothes for Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote) before a November fire that killed 112 workers was operating without a safety license and had been warned twice to improve conditions there, an emergency services official said.
"We refused to renew the license because there was a lack of fire safety measures," Abu Nayeem Mohammad Shahidullah, director general of the Fire Service and Civil Defence told Reuters in Dhaka on Monday.
"The fire safety certification expired on June 30, but the department did not renew it because fire safety provisions had not been put in place," he said. He added that in July a reminder had been sent to the management of the factory, which is owned by the garments manufacturer Tuba Group.
An official at Tuba Group declined to comment on the status of the license at the time of the fire.
Mahbubur Rahman, a Fire Service and Civil Defence inspector who visited the utility, said the factory managers "did not respond to our notices and did not pay heed to our suggestions".
After the November 24 blaze at the Tazreen Fashions factory in an industrial suburb of the Bangladeshi capital, both Wal-Mart and Sears Holdings Inc (SHLD.O: Quote) admitted that their goods were being manufactured at the workshop even though both had specifically denied it authorization as a supplier.
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said one of its suppliers - now known to be Success Apparel, a company based in New York City's Garment District - had subcontracted work to the factory without authorization and would no longer be used. Wal-Mart has not confirmed the name of the supplier, but Success has identified itself.
Success, in a statement, said it placed an order with an approved Wal-Mart manufacturer, Simco Bangladesh Limited, and only found out after the fire that the manufacturer had sub-contracted to the parent company of Tazreen Fashions. Continued...