WASHINGTON Dec 20 A dozen U.S. lawmakers
pressed President Barack Obama's administration on Thursday to
complete a long-running review that could lead to suspension of
trade benefits for Bangladesh after a deadly factory blaze there
"We are seriously concerned about the deterioration of
working conditions and worker rights in Bangladesh," the
congressional Democrats said in a letter to U.S. Trade
Representative Ron Kirk.
"The latest apparel industry fire, with over 100 workers
killed, in the Tazreen garment factory is the latest in a series
of events and practices constituting this decline," the
A Bangladeshi panel investigating the Nov. 24 fire at the
Tazreen Fashion Factory that killed 112 workers concluded it was
the result of both sabotage and negligence.
The tragedy put a spotlight on global retailers that source
clothes from Bangladesh, where labor costs are as little as $37
a month for some workers. Human rights groups have called on
big-brand firms to sign up a fire-safety program.
The largest U.S. labor organization, the AFL-CIO federation,
has raised concerns for years about working conditions in
Bangladesh and filed a petition in 2007 asking for a review of
trade benefits for the country under the Generalized System of
Preferences program, which waives U.S. import duties for poor
countries on thousands of goods.
GSP rules require a country to demonstrate that it is
"taking steps to afford internationally recognized human
rights," the U.S. lawmakers said. "We believe it is vital that
your office complete your assessment of Bangladesh's compliance
with these requirements."
(Reporting By Doug Palmer; Editing by David Brunnstrom)