A textile factory caught fire in Pakistan on Wednesday morning, claiming nearly 300 of the workers inside. With details that sound eerily similar to New York City’s Triangle Fire of 1911, this fire has been claimed by officials to be Pakistan’s worst industrial accident. Just as in the 1911 fire, workers caught in the blaze found that only one of the exits was left unlocked. Rescue workers found the many of the victims died of smoke inhalation. The source of the fire is somewhat unclear still, but one supposition is that it was an electrical malfunction.
The real issue that arises from this incident is that the conditions these workers were under were not safe. Safety in the work place is guaranteed under the Pakistani Constitution, however regulations and inspections have been on the decline. A former electrical inspector said that since 2003 it has been forbidden for inspectors to visit factories in Karachi, the city in which the fire took place. The reason for this ban is unclear. The textile industry is a major part of the Pakistani economy, yet it suffers from lax regulations and corruption. The workers are poorly paid, and they work in buildings that, due to oversight in inspections, have become fire hazards. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is urging the government to begin an immediate investigation of the fire. Hopefully the similarities in this Pakistani fire and the Triangle Fire will not stop with the negatives. The response of the American public and government to the Triangle Fire was a large part of what saw labor reforms in America taking a positive swing from picketing and strikes, to actual legislation and realization of worker’s rights.
Masood, Salman; ur-Rehman, Zia; Walsh, Declan. “Lax Regulations Blamed as Fires Kill Hundreds in Pakistan.” The New York Times 13 September 2012: A6 and A8. Print.