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Sean 'Diddy' Combs urged to act after Bangladesh factory fire

Activists want the rapper to campaign for safer conditions at clothing factories in Bangladesh, one of which burned down at the weekend killing 110 staff.

Sean 'Diddy' Combs, formerly known as Puff Daddy and P Diddy.
Sean 'Diddy' Combs, formerly known as Puff Daddy and P Diddy.
Image: Zacharie Scheurer/AP/Press Association Images

ACTIVISTS HAVE URGED rapper Sean ’Diddy’ Combs to push for better working conditions after revealing clothing for his fashion line was made in a Bangladeshi factory where 110 staff died in a fire.

Labour rights campaigners shot and distributed dozens of images of labelled clothes inside the gutted remains of the Tazreen Fashion factory, where the ferocious blaze took hold late on Saturday.

“We found clothing of ENYCE (Combs’s label) and Faded Glory (a Walmart range),” Kalpona Akter, director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, told AFP.

She said that clothes also made for German discount line KiK, US firm Dickies, True Desire of Sears, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and several other Western brands had been identified in the burnt-out ruins.

ENYCE and Combs, who was formerly known as Puff Daddy, were not immediately available for comment.

But Walmart, European chain C&A and Hong Kong supplier Li & Fung have been among companies confirming they had clothes made at the factory.

“We are sure that Mr. Combs will be as shocked as we are to find that his company is implicated in such an horrific tragedy,” said Liz Parker of the Clean Clothes Campaign, an Amsterdam-based textile rights group.

“We urge him to use his influence to make sure clothing factories are safe places for people to work.”

Cries for help

The fire at Tazreen Fashion brings the total of workers that have died in factory fires in Bangladesh since 2006 to around 700, according to the group.

Walmart on Monday acknowledged some of its products were made at the nine-storey plant, which only had planning permission for three storeys according to government inspectors.

“A supplier subcontracted work to this factory without authorisation and in direct violation of our policies,” Walmart said in a statement. “Today, we have terminated the relationship with that supplier.

“The fact that this occurred is extremely troubling to us.”

Witnesses of Saturday night’s blaze told how desperate workers, most of them women, cried for help and several leaped to their deaths from upper floors as they tried to escape.

German retailer KiK was also a major client of a factory in Pakistan where a fire killed 289 people in September this year. It has agreed to pay more than $1.2 million in compensation to victims.

- © AFP, 2012

Read: Workers protest ‘deathtrap’ factories

Read: At least 112 killed in fire at Bangladesh garment factory

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