Updated June 28, 2013- 12:29PM
Called one of the worst industrial disasters in history, the factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh has now claimed the lives of over 1,000 people.
Police say over 1,129 bodies have been recovered from the wreckage of the eight-story Rana Plaza building and more were expected as salvage work continued two weeks after the April 24th collapse.
A European Union delegation has requested the government to “act quickly”. So far, the government has closed 18 factories in the region for failing to meet safety standards.
Bangladesh earns nearly $20 billion a year from exports of garment products, mainly to the United States and Europe. The average American or European shopper frequents stores like H&M, Zara, the Gap, JC Penney, or has something in their closet made in Bangladesh or in another third world country.
Cheap labor is found in countries like Bangladesh with poor working conditions and little enforcement of labor laws, and so it’s no surprise that the recent disaster far surpasses fires last year that killed about 260 people in Pakistan and 112 in Bangladesh.
After hundreds of garment workers protested for compensation Tuesday, authorities started disbursing salaries and other benefits.
Thousands of workers have marched through central Dhaka, to demand better safety at work and the death penalty for the owner of the factory.
The workers, many who make little more than the national minimum wage of about $38 per month, are demanding at least four months in salary. About 3.5 million Bangladeshis — 80% of them women — work in the sector, but wages for many remain low.
Officials say the building’s owner, who was recently arrested, illegally added three floors to Rana Plaza and allowed the garment factories to install heavy machines and generators.
A study by Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies shows more than 6,000 workers died on the job in the last decade.