Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

27 Protesters Arrested at Children's Place

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

27 Protesters Arrested at Children's Place

Article excerpt

More than two dozen protesters were arrested Thursday at the Secaucus offices of clothing retailer The Children's Place Inc. and were charged with trespassing after staging a demonstration on behalf of the victims of a factory collapse in Bangladesh two years ago.

The protesters included college students from the United Students Against Sweatshops and members of the union Workers United -- SEIU, which represents garment workers, as well as an 18-year-old woman from Bangladesh who was one of the workers trapped in the rubble in 2013 when the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka caved in, killing more than 1,100 workers and injuring hundreds of others.

That worker, Mahinur Begum, is in the United States as part of a speaking tour on behalf of the factory victims organized by the International Labor Rights Forum and United Students Against Sweatshops. Begum was buried in the debris and lost a toe when a piece of machinery fell on her.

The Rana Plaza tragedy brought global attention to the unsafe working conditions and low wages at many garment factories in Bangladesh, the second-largest exporter of apparel after China. While conditions at apparel manufacturers have improved in the two years since the Rana Plaza tragedy, factory safety in Bangladesh continues to be a problem. On Thursday, as the protesters were being charged at the Secaucus police station, news was breaking about a collapse at a cement factory in Bangladesh that killed at least four people.

The protest Thursday was planned to coincide with a time when Begum would be in New York City and available to come to Secaucus. Organizers said the fact that it was held on the day the company announced its earnings for the fourth quarter and year was a coincidence. (See related story.)

The Children's Place did not respond to requests for comment on the demonstration. After a similar protest last year, the company's general counsel, Bradley P. Cost, issued a statement saying the company is "making a large and long-term commitment to improve safety conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers."

The Children's Place, and other North American retailers, created the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety in response to demands for safety improvements for the workers who make their merchandise. …

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