My name is Lovely* and I live in Bangladesh. This weekend, my worst nightmare came true. Ever since I survived a fire in a garment factory I worked in when I was 11, I've wondered when the next deadly fire would happen.
A few days ago, a fire killed at least 122 people who were working in a factory that was making clothing for Walmart outside the capital, Dhaka. There were no emergency exits and no evacuation plan. People burned to death. It was my worst nightmare come true.
I started a petition on Change.org because I think American companies like Walmart can save others from suffering like me and the 700 people who have died in factory fires in Bangladesh in the past 7 years. Please sign my petition calling on Walmart and the largest retailers that buy Bangladeshi apparel to commit to a real fire safety program that is legally binding, transparent and empowers workers to fight for our own safety.
Already, two American companies -- Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein -- have joined a comprehensive fire safety program for workers in Bangladesh. The program is transparent, includes worker input and is legally binding. It will keep workers like me safe and give workers' families legal rights if fires do happen.
The fires that do occur happen because most companies that buy the clothing we make don't talk to us workers about what we need for our own safety. Instead, they abandon us when factories like the one I worked in don't pass inspections. But we don't stop being in danger -- the companies just stop feeling responsible for our safety.
Companies like Walmart, Gap and H&M can join Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein to save lives in Bangladesh. But only if we call on them to do so right now. Please join me in calling on the top buyers from Bangladesh to do the right thing by signing my petition now.
Lovely from Bangladesh
*I am not revealing my last name for my own security.