Report Will Say Thai Government Culpable in Fatal Factory Fire Bangkok Promises to Take Stronger Action on Worker Safety and Enforcement of Labor Laws

Article excerpt

A SPECIAL commission report on May's tragic doll factory fire will criticize both the owners and government ministries, say sources familiar with a draft of the report.

The report is expected to condemn safety conditions at the plant, as well as the Thai government's failure to follow up on early warnings of safety hazards.

On May 10 a fire destroyed the Kader Industrial (Thailand) Company doll factory on the outskirts of Bangkok in one of the worst industrial blazes in history. So far investigations show 188 workers dead, 13 missing, and about 400 injured. Most of the surviving 3,000 workers remain unemployed.

On Tuesday at least 10 teenage girls locked in a garment sweatshop in central Bangkok also were killed when the building went up in flames, police say.

After the Kader fire, Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai appointed a special fact-finding commission made up of industry, labor, and academic representatives. The commission will likely present its preliminary report to Mr. Chuan early this month, says Nikom Chandravithun, chairman of the commission.

While the draft of the report is still being finalized, Lae Dilokvidhyarat, an economics professor with ties to commission members, and other sources say it will contain some sharp criticisms:

* Kader operated a plant with only one narrow fire exit. The plant locked passageways to adjoining buildings to prevent theft. So when the fire broke out, hundreds of workers were trapped. Many jumped from upper-story windows. Despite two previous fires at the plant and warnings from government inspectors, the company failed to improve safety conditions. …


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