My name is Lovely. On February 23, 2006, my life changed forever. That was the day that KTS Textile Factory in Chittagong, Bangladesh, caught fire. I was 11 years old and my job was to pack socks.
Working there was like working in a death trap. We didn’t have safety equipment. We never had a fire drill. When the fire started, we couldn’t escape because management had locked the exits. 63 of my coworkers died and 150 of us were injured.
During the chaos of the fire, I fell down the stairs. When I finally woke up in the hospital, I learned that my injuries would prevent me from working for the rest of my life. I still go to the hospital because of the pain, something I can barely afford because I never received compensation for the accident. I'm from a poor family, and now I am a burden to them. My family is so poor that they can’t even give me food every day.
Today I find the courage to speak to you because I have had enough. Six years later, working conditions in Bangladesh have hardly changed. Since 2005 more than 700 garment workers have died in sweatshop factory fires. Every day I wonder: Is this the day when there will be another fire and more people will die?
My worst nightmare came true two years ago when 29 workers died at a Gap supplier. After 112 workers were killed in a fire at a Walmart supplier on November 24, 2012, I couldn't be silent any longer.
For us Bangladeshis who sew the clothing that you wear, please sign my petition calling on major buyers from Bangladesh – Walmart and Gap – to commit to a real fire safety program that will save the lives of the companies’ sweatshop workers.
PS. This petition was previously addressed also to H&M, until H&M signed onto the Bangladesh Safety Accord in May 2013. Thank you, H&M, for agreeing to be a leader in fire and buliding safety in Bangladesh!